Foundations of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Evidence-Based Design -- (CS/PSYC 6755) [Fall 2019]

Hand crank calculator This course will teach you about the importance of the human-computer interface in the design and development of things people use. We will touch on many of the perceptual, cognitive, and social characteristics of people, as well as methods for learning more about the people you wish to use your systems (analyzing the tasks they perform, the way they perform them, the way they think and feel about what they do, etc.). We will discuss the capabilities and limits of computers and other related systems, and discuss how that affects design and implementation decisions.

We will also cover methods of evidence-based design, and ways to ideate, brainstorm, implement, evaluate, and improve a design. This includes discussion of User Centered Design and Universal Design philosophies. The course will be a blend of perceptual/psychological, social, physical design, digital design, media design, process design, and computer science elements. You will work on individual and group projects to learn in a hands-on way about the various stages of an effective design process, and effectively designed products and services. This course is a complement to the two other core courses in the MS-HCI Program at Georgia Tech; specifically PSYC 6023 Research Methods for HCI, and CS/PSYC/ID/LMC 6753 Professional Preparation.

In particular, it is important to understand that throughout the entire MS-HCI program, we consistently emphasize User-Centered Design, Evidence-Based Design, and Universal Design approaches. However, each class focuses on different aspects of these topics. You can expect, for example, to see the HCI Foundations and Research Methods for HCI classes spending different portions of time on three main phases, something like this:

  Needs Analysis Design and Prototype Evaluation
Research Methods for HCI 40% 20% 40%
HCI Foundations 25% 50% 25%

Semester Theme: "On The Go". We are going to adopt the theme of "Human-Computer Interaction Issues On The Go" for the semester. The group projects will have something to do with humans and computers/information technology interacting in transit, sport, play, travel, etc. This space allows us to consider many users, many tasks, with plenty of room for creativity in the lectures, discussions, and in the projects. Think outside the box!

We will also consider especially challenging design cases, such as new situations and applications, boundaries of social experience, solutions for special populations (particularly thinking about people with disabilities)...Solutions can be formal, informal; large, small; physical or virtual; permanent or ad hoc; wearable, hearable, tablet, mobile, or augmented reality....Did I mention that you should think outside the box?

Note that not everything in the class will be centered on the theme. We are just trying for a bit of common ground across the projects. Further, the HCI aspects in this area are common to many other important areas. For example, developing a training system for warehouse employees relates to creating kiosks, and web services, and mobile devices, and all of these can be thought of as research tools... You get the idea.

The class objectives are:

Meeting Time: Mon/Wed/Fri - 9:00-10:00am
Meeting Place: Instructional Center, Room 105


Dr. Bruce N. Walker

Other Section/Instructor

No other sections are offered in the Fall semester.

Teaching Assistants

Keenan May (kmay AT

Nadia Fereydooni (nadia.fereydooni AT

Megan Shepherd (mshepherd35 AT

Text books

There is one required text book, and two recommended text books for the class. In addition there will be additional reading assigned during the semester. Note that the recommended text books are the required text books for PSYC 6023 Research Methods for HCI.

Required text book:
Interaction Design: Beyond Human - Computer Interaction (5th ed.), by Helen Sharp, Jenny Preece, Yvonne Rogers. Wiley, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-1119547259 ISBN-10: 1119547253
Book web site:
Available at the GT Book Store.
Amazon: and other places. It is also available in electronic format, and for rent.
NOTE: You can use the 4th edition, if you already have it; but the 5th edition is updated and covers more material.

Recommended additional text books:
Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements Methods, Tools, and Techniques (2nd ed.), by Kathy Baxter, Catherine Courage, and Kelly Caine. Elsevier, 2015.
Available at the GT Book Store.
Amazon: and other places for both new and used editions. It is also available in electronic format, and for rent.
Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics (Second Edition) (2nd ed.), by Thomas Tullis & William (Bill) Albert. Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann/Elsevier. 2013.
Available at the GT Book Store.
Amazon: and other places for both new and used editions. It is also available in electronic format, and for rent.

Optional: The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. Currency/Doubleday, 1990.
Available at the GT Book Store. See also: and other places for both new and used editions.

Additional Reading

Additional reading will be required. Typically they will be posted as PDFs on the class web site (see schedule page). It is the responsibility of the students to obtain and read the exta material. The material in those extra readings may be included on tests and other evaluations in the class.

One book that will be referred to a lot is:
Universal Usability, edited by Jonathan Lazar. Wiley, 2007. (See the schedule page for details on readings.)


Assessment Philosophy: HCI is a very broad, interdisciplinary domain. There is simply a lot of information that an HCI professional needs to know and understand in order to be effective. It takes a number of different sources, a number of different types of learning to gather this breadth of material. Not everything can be covered in the lectures or discussed in class--reading journals and books is neccesary. Not everything can be learned in books either--practice, field work, and team projects are called for. In order to assess your learning of this range of material, it is necessary to have a multitude of assessment techniques. This includes individual and team work; conceptual knowledge and rote memorization; calculations and aesthetic judgments; written assignments and inclass exams. It is all important.

Your final grade is made up of four major components: homework assignments, projects, exams, and class participation. The weighting of these components is described below.

Students are expected to do their own work at all times and to follow the university's codes of academic conduct and honor code. Cases of suspected inappropriate collaboration or cheating will be immediately forwarded to the Dean of Student Affairs, and will be pursued to resolution. This is an unpleasant process for all involved, so please do not put yourself in this situation.

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner--this entails showing up for classes and exams at the appointed time. Late make-up exams will not be given. If some form of prior committment prevents a student from taking an exam at the given time, PRIOR arrangements (including documentation where appropriate) should be made with the instructor.

Extra work, after the semester, is not allowed to "bring up" a grade. A student's grade shall be earned from their performance solely on the semester's assignments.

Letter grades are determined almost entirely based on a semester-long accumulation of points, weighed in percentage as stated for each component as summarized below. Typically, the standard percent-to-letter conversion for graduate courses will be applied, such that 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-80% = C, and less than 70% = F. Note, however, that the instructor will consider the totality of the student's performance during the semester, and may adjust final letter grades up or down by one half of a letter grade from the score suggested by the point total. In practice, this letter grade adjustment is almost always only used to bring up overall grades, such as when the grading has been particularly harsh over the semester, and the instructor determines that higher grades are warranted. This final letter grade adjustment, may, however, also be used to lower a letter grade if, for example, a student has clearly and obviously participated much less effectively in the team project, or in other ways interfered with the learning of other students.


A mid-term examination is planned for the course. Most exam questions will reflect the material covered in lecture and assigned reading. Questions will consist mostly of short answer questions, with a few multiple-choice, T-F, and longer essay questions as well.

A final examination is planned for the course, in the university-assigned exam period for this course. Most exam questions will reflect the material covered in lecture and assigned reading. Questions will consist mostly of short answer questions, with a few multiple-choice, T-F, and longer essay questions. There may be a design challenge.

Homework Assignments

There will be approximately two homeworks assigned. You will have about two weeks to complete each one. The goal of the homeworks is to give you practical experience in the processes and methods used in this field. They might range from observing people in a mini field study, to sketching a prototype, to mocking up an interface in Photoshop or VisualBasic, to designing a research study.


A semester-long, team-based interface design project will be given in this course. The project will be broken down into four parts, each around three weeks in duration. The overall grade for the project will be a substantial portion of your grade, with the individual parts of the project worth approximately 10% of your grade, each. The project will have your team develop an alternative interface for some computer-based application. The assignments will have you evaluate users, needs, and tasks in the domain, design a mock-up for a new interface, develop a prototype of that interface, and evaluate your design. The material which you turn in should be presented professionally, and should stress grammatical correctness and clarity. An electronic version of the project will be posted to the Web; a paper version will also be handed in. There will be templates available to let you know more about the format for submitting your work, and to provide some idea of what is expected. You will be judged on your originality, innovativeness, quality of writing, and correctness. Further details will accompany each assignment.

Class Participation

Reading assignments will be specified for each week. You are expected to come to class, and be prepared -- that is, having read and having made an attempt to understand the material. You should be ready to discuss the material covered in the lectures and reading. Much of the material in this course is subjective. Feel free to describe your views. A portion of your grade will be determined by a subjective participation rating. If you come to class prepared and participate in discussions, you can anticipate receiving all of this credit.

NOTE: A portion of your class participation grade will be determined by the other members of your project team, via an anonymous process. If you participate and "pull your weight" in the project, you will receive full points for that; you may also receive fewer points, or even bonus points, as deserved.


Below is presented the weight of the different course components toward your final grade.

HWs 10%
Midterm exam 20%
Final exam 20%
Project 40%
Participation 10%

Accommodations Policy

If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Services (404-894-2563), All academic accommodations must be arranged through that office. They will then contact me with instructions.

Some Other Comments...

Respect and Consideration: Please, above all, be respectful and considerate of others in the class. It should go without saying, but this includes showing up on time for classes, team meetings, exams, etc. Please turn your cell phone, pager, PDA, or any other alarms and ringers off while you are in class. If you disturb the class (including incoming phone calls), you may be asked to leave.