None. Assignments will involve user testing, paper prototyping, and implementing a prototype of a working design, using some computational medium. However, you can select how to implement your solutions, and you can choose whether to use HTML with an editor like Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, Microsoft Expressions Blend/Sketchflow, or even PowerPoint. Thus, everyone from non-programmers to expert programmers are welcome. No background in HCI is expected.



Required Textbook

My colleagues wrote a major new textbook, and our class helped improve it for over 2 years. We have been using it for a few years now, and it receives good marks from the class:

H. Rex Hartson and Pardha S. Pyla, The UX Book: Process and Guidelines for Ensuring a Quality User Experience, Morgan Kaufmann / Elsevier, 2012.

Other useful resources

Beyer, H. and Holtzblatt, K., Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems. 1998, San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc. ISBN: 1-55860-411-1 (paperback) Author's site; or Amazon

Jakob Nielsen. Usability Engineering. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 1994. ISBN 0-12-518406-9 (paperback) [updated from the the older hardcover: ISBN 0-12-518405-0]. Author's site; or Amazon

Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things. Basic Books; 1st Basic edition (September 2002), ISBN: 0-465-06710-7 (paperback) [updated from the original 1988 hardcover version]. Author's site; or Amazon

Amount of Work

This is a "6 unit" mini. As per university policy, this means that this course is expected to take students 12 hours per week, including class time. Surveys of previous students show that this is accurate. Here is the university policy:

Definition of a "Unit"

Carnegie Mellon has adopted the method of assigning a number of "units" for each course to represent the quantity of work required of students. For the average student, one unit represents one work-hour of time per week throughout the semester. The number of units in each course is fixed by the faculty member in consultation with the college offering the course. Three units are the equivalent of one traditional semester credit hour.

Hence, a 9 unit semester-long course should require 9 hours of student engagement, on average, including class time; if the instructor requires 3 hours of lecture and 1 hour of recitation, they can expect students to spend 5 hours outside of class engaging in class work. For mini courses that run for only seven weeks, the conversion from units to number of hours per week during the mini involves multiplying by 2. For example, a 6 unit mini course should on average involve 12 hours of student engagement; if the instructor requires 3 hours of lecture and 3 hours of lab, they can expect the students to spend 6 hours outside of class.

How to Submit Homework

All Homeworks must be turned in using Blackboard. (Let us know if you are enrolled and you don't have access to the Blackboard site!) All documents should be in pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format, except for your executable prototype, which should be in its native format, and homework #5 where you should turn in the Microsoft Word version of your two evaluation reports. If your homework is one file, you can just upload it, and name it like this: HCI-HWn-lastname-firstname.pdf, for example: HCI-HW1-myers-brad.pdf. If you have multiple files, you should zip up all your files into one .zip file, and name it like this:, for example: An exception is homework #5 which has custom turn-in instructions. Failure to follow the turn-in instructions may result in up to a one-grade penalty (10 points out of 100).

All homeworks are due before class (before 1:30pm Eastern time) on the due date. See the penalty for late assignments.

We will try to return your graded homeworks on the morning when the next homework is due. Your graded homework and your grades will be available on blackboard as well.


See the homework list and the submission requirements. You can also see the number of points for each assignment:

Assignment Percent of Grade
Homework 0 --
Homework 1 12%
Homework 2 12%
Homework 3 12%
Homework 4 12%
Homework 5 12%
Homework 6 10%
Final Exam 30%

Late Policy:

Assignments are due before the beginning of class (1:30pm Eastern time) on the specified day. A penalty of 10 points out of 100 (one letter grade) will be immediately applied after the start time of class. An additional 10 points will be subtracted for each additional class period late.

For Homeworks 4 and 5, there cannot be any late assignments--everyone must be ready to have someone else evaluate their implementation and HEs to respond to.

The last day to turn in assignments for credit is Wednesday December 10, 2014, so we have time to grade them.

Cheating Policy: No Cheating

  • All assignments in this course are individual: you are required to do them by yourself.
  • Each person must do their own work independently.
  • No copying anybody else's work.
  • No copying answers from any other course's assignments.
  • No copying code from the Web.
  • For homeworks where you are supposed to do a user study, it is considered cheating to make up the data -- you must run a real person and record what they actually said and did.
  • For your designs of user interfaces, do not copy a commercial design. In particular, it is not acceptable to use any art-work (pictures) from commercial products, unless it is explicitly marked as free clip-art.
  • Penalty for cheating: a zero on the assignment, and possibly other penalties as well.
  • The final exam will be individual and closed book. No copying or notes will be allowed for the final.

Disciplinary action for cheating or plagarism:

While there is a university-wide disciplinary committee which handles serious disciplinary matters referred to it, the responsibility for establishing disciplinary guidelines rests with each department. Since the primary affiliation of this course is with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), we will follow the set of rules established by that department. The following are the rules to be applied uniformly by the HCII

First, cheating in any form is not permitted as an ethical or professional behavior and will not be tolerated. Cheating includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

  • The use of unauthorized materials including computer programs in preparation of an assignment or during an examination.
  • The submission or use of falsified data.
  • The submission of work that is not the student's own.
  • Plagiarism- use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work. (See below)
  • The use of an alternate/stand-in/proxy during an examination.
  • Supplying unauthorized data to another student for the preparation of an assignment or during an examination.
  • Collaboration in the preparation of an assignment, unless specifically required or allowed by the instructor, will usually be viewed as cheating. Each student, therefore, is responsible for understanding the policies of the instructor offering any course as they refer to the amount of help and collaboration permitted in preparation of assignments.

Should any student be found guilty of cheating on a quiz, exam, homework or project, at minimum a zero grade will be recorded and then averaged in with the other grades (should there be any) for the term. Depending on the circumstances, and at the discretion of the instructor and the Department Head, the student may be failed in the course and may be expelled from the University. In any case, the University will be notified of any case of cheating or plagiarism. A repeated occurrence of cheating will be treated as an automatic failure (R grade) and expulsion from the University.

A subtler form of cheating arises in the form of plagiarism, which is defined as "passing off as one's own the ideas or works of another." Making use of reference material and failing to note (either at all or properly) the original source constitutes plagiarism. When two or more people work together on an individual project and each then turns in his/her individual report as though no collaboration was involved, this also is plagiarism. Simply rewriting another's words or thoughts, or rearranging another's materials, is in every sense plagiarism - unless the student properly and completely references such material, each and every time it is used and to the full extent of usage. Should a case of plagiarism arise, the initial responsibility for judging the seriousness of the offense will rest with the instructor. If the instructor feels that the student was simply sloppy in referencing the material used and plagiarized, a judgment of sloppy professionalism rather than cheating will be made. The grade for the paper, project or thesis will be lowered by at least one grade point. On the other hand, if the instructor feels that the student plagiarized flagrantly, and intentionally meant to mislead the instructor into thinking that the work was the student's own original work, the grade for the report, project or thesis will be recorded as zero.

It should be emphasized that any group collaboration that involves individual take-home projects, papers or theses should be carried out only with considerable discretion. That is, students are encouraged to discuss and collaborate among themselves on the various principles which are exposited in class or covered in the reading material, etc.; but any group discussion or collaboration which involves any specifics of take-home projects, papers or theses should be avoided - unless the ideas or efforts of others are properly noted. Put differently, when individual work and thinking is called for, group thinking and/or work is entirely inappropriate and is a form of plagiarism. In any case of cheating or plagiarism, the student may request a review of the instructor's decision by the department head, who will then make the final decision for the department. The student, of course, can appeal any faculty decision to the University Committee on Discipline. In a case of flagrant cheating by a graduate student on a thesis, the matter will be forwarded to the Disciplinary Committee for stronger action.

  • University Policy on Cheating and Plagiarism
  • University Academic Disciplinary Actions Overview for Graduate Students