Syllabus: CSE 4663 / 6663 Human-Computer Interaction

Dr. J. Edward Swan II <>
Fall 2010
Course Time and Location
Mon and Wed, 3:30 pm–4:45 pm, 104 Butler Hall
Office Hours and Location
Mon and Wed, 4:45 pm–6:00 pm, 104 Butler Hall
Course Prerequisites
CSE 3813 (Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata) for CSE majors with a grade of C or better, consent of instructor for non-majors.  Note: this is an out-of-date requirement which I will seek to have changed this year; this course will have nothing to do with formal languages or automata.
Catalog Description
Three hours lecture.  Conceptual models formed by users, aspects of computer systems which affect users, interface design and evaluation, and examples and critiques of specific interfaces.
Longer Description
Survey of human-computer interaction concepts, theory, and practice.  Basic components of human-computer interaction.  Interdisciplinary underpinnings.  Informed and critical evaluation of computer-based technology.  User-oriented perspective, rather than system-oriented, with two thrusts: human (cognitive, social) and technological (input/output, interactions styles, devices).  Design guidelines, evaluation methods, participatory design, communication between users and system developers.
Required Text
There is no required text!  However, some readings will be assigned.

Grading Scale

90%–100% A
80%–89% B
70%–79% C
60%–69% D
0%–59% F

Graded Activities

Group Design Projects: 60%
Class Presentations and Assignments: 10%
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Exam: 15%

Group Design Projects

In this class, students will spend the majority of their time designing and implementing user interface designs.  This will occur in small teams of students; we will aim for team sizes of 2–5 members.  Students will be semi-randomly assigned to teams.  We will have 3 design projects this semester.  After each project, teams will disband and new teams will be formed.

During the design process, teams will present periodic progress reports in class.  On the day a design is due, teams will present their design to the class, and will turn in materials (drawings, mockups, slides, documents, source code, etc.) related to the design.

Grading: I will subjectively grade the interface designs.  The primary grading criteria will be the degree to which the design meets its assigned objectives.  Additional criteria may include evidence of how much effort the team has invested in the design, creativity, and the quality of submitted materials.  The result of this grading process will be a team grade.  The baseline grade for each team member will be equal to the team grade, but may be modified up or down based on peer feedback and instructor feedback

Peer and Instructor Feedback: After each design is completed, team members will be asked to anonymously evaluate each other along dimensions related to contribution level and how easy they are to work with.  A team member's grade may be modified either up or down by this feedback.  Each team member will receive an anonymized version of this feedback.  In addition, the instructor may further adjust a team member's grade up or down, based on his observation of the team member's contribution level, both to the development of the interface design as well as to the class as a whole.  Any such adjustments will be communicated to each affected student. 

Class Presentations and Assignments

Students will make class presentations, and may complete additional assignments.  The class presentations will primarily involve demonstrating and analyzing user interfaces and interaction techniques.  Assignments may be in-class or take-home (homework).  In-class activities will have either a written component for students to prepare individually in advance, or a group assignment to be done in class.  Take-home assignments are due by class time on the due date; they will not be accepted after the beginning of class.


The format and content of the exams will be announced before each.  Generally, they will be comprehensive exams which cover the concepts and principles discussed in the lectures and the readings.

Missed Assignments and Exams

Missed assignments or exams fall into two categories: excused or unexcused.  Excused absences occur when you know about the potential absence ahead of time and discuss a resolution with the instructor at least a week beforehand; usually, this involves modifying the due date or scheduling a make-up exam.  If you miss an assignment or exam, they you must meet with the instructor at the earliest opportunity and provide documentation justifying the absence to make the absence an excused one.  Absences that are unexcused for more than a week will generally receive no points on the assignment or exam.  If a missed exam absence is excused, then I will substitute the average number of points of your other exams for the missed exam.

Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration

In this course, students are expected to uphold the Mississippi State University Honor Code:

"As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."

Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor Code.  Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work.  Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor Code.

Students are also expected to maintain the standards of academic honesty that are described in the CSE Department's Undergraduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy (CSE 4833), or the CSE Department's Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy (CSE 6833).  These standards apply in their entirety to the midterm and the final exam

However, in the real world people work in teams, and interface designs will be developed collaboratively by teams of students.

These are important policies.  Not only will violators fail to learn the course material, but violators will receive an "XF" in this course, and will otherwise be handled according the CSE Department's Undergraduate or Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policies, as well as the Academic Operating Policy and Procedure of Mississippi State University.

As a professor at Mississippi State University, I am required to report all incidents of academic misconduct.

Right to Change

I reserve the right to change the course policies or schedule in order to facilitate instruction.  Any such changes will be discussed in class and updated on the course web site.

Additional Policies

Attendance and Audits: Attendance is required in this class.  Although attendance will not directly affect your grade, I will take roll, and I will list absences on midterm and final grade reports.  Students who miss class are still responsible for the material covered and for any assignments distributed.  Furthermore, as described above, students who are absent for an in-class group activity will not receive any credit for that activity.  Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.

Personal Electronic Devices: Students must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore, cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which disturb the lecture are not allowed.  Students with personal laptops are encouraged to bring them to class; however, laptops are not required for this course.

Grade of Incomplete (I): Following MSU policy, incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances, such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar circumstances beyond a student's control.

No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler Hall classrooms.

Email: When I send class-related email, I will use your email address. 

Drop / Add Policy: This class follows Mississippi State University's Official Drop/Add Policy:

A.   Add/Drop without penalty — A student has through the fifth class day into the semester to drop a course and through the sixth class day to add a course without being assessed a fee or academic penalty.

B.   Drop after the fifth class day through the 30th class day into the semester — A student who elects to drop a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be assessed a fee.  The advisor who permits the drop will specify its effective date. 

C.   Drop after the 30th class day into the semester — A student cannot drop courses after this period except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of his/her performance.   A request to drop a course during this period must be approved by the student’s advisor and academic dean.  The dean who permits the drop will specify its effective date.  A student receiving permission to drop will receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.

D.  Faculty are expected to provide a student with significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance within the first 30 class days of the semester.

Last modified: September 13, 2010