Carnegie Mellon
School of Computer Science

Dr. Geoff Kaufman
Office: NSH 3611
Phone: 412-268-4812
email: gfk @

Dr. Carol Frieze
Office: Gates 4111

Phone: 412-268-9071
email: cfrieze @

hci logoHCI Solutions for Mitigating Bias

When and Where:

Special Topics in HCI: 05-497
Spring Mini-3
Tues, Thurs, 10:30am - 11:50am
Room: 300 Sth Craig, Rm 172

Geoff Kaufman and Carol Frieze
Units: 6

Course Description:                 Course Syllabus                                       Course Readings and Resources

In this course, students will:

  • Learn about theories, methods, and design techniques to reduce unconscious bias
  • Be a part of an interdisciplinary project team to design a new digital app, website, or game
  • Contribute to efforts at CMU to promote inclusiveness and diversity in science and technology

Unconscious bias remains a pervasive and pressing social issue. New approaches to understanding and mitigating its effects, along with evaluating the effectiveness of approaches, are urgently needed.  

This course aims to leverage the strengths of an interdisciplinary HCI approach, bringing together topics and tools from behavioral science, design, and computer science, for the creation of theoretically grounded technology-based interventions for addressing unconscious bias.

The goals of this course are: a) to introduce concepts, research evidence, and practical strategies for mitigating the impact of bias, with a particular focus on computer science and technology contexts; b) to understand the theory and methodology of persuasive design principles in the design of HCI interventions for social impact; and c) to apply this foundational knowledge to the development and evaluation of a team-designed mobile app, website, or digital game to help mitigate or measure the impact of biases and stereotypes. Students will gain experience in critical thinking, public speaking, project work in teams, the design and research of social interventions, and the use of rapid prototyping and iteration to design a technical project.

The course has no prerequisites, but some technical experience (programming, web design, etc.) will be expected. The class will conclude with a public demonstration of the projects developed.

The work in this class consists of individual work (readings and homework assignments) and group work (discussion leading and the course project). 

Semester project
You will work as part of a team to develop a prototype (e.g., an app, a website, a game, etc.) that aims to intervene to reduce implicit bias and/or measure/evaluate implicit bias for users.  You will design this prototype iteratively, relying on extensive testing (inside and outside of class) with a variety of users.  Your project must be informed by the course material and reviews of the unconscious bias literature that you and your team perform.

In addition, project teams will give a public demo of their prototypes on the last day of class.





Homework Assignments



Class participation (including discussion leading and discussion board posts)



Semester Research Project (including final report and project presentation)



**ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Important Must Read**

Attendance, Participation, and other Classroom Policies

We take this class seriously and expect you to do the same. If you want credit for the class, you must prepare for class and attend. If you have an obligation that conflicts with a scheduled class meeting, please let us know at the beginning of the semester.

It is very important that all students can feel comfortable asking questions and contributing to class discussions.  To that end, please try to be respectful of and patient with others, even if you have strongly differing opinions.  You also have a right to expect respectful behavior from others.  If you have any suggestions about how to create a more productive and cooperative classroom environment, please contact us at any time in the semester.

As research on learning shows, unexpected noises and movement automatically divert and capture people's attention, which means you are affecting everyone’s learning experience if your cell phone, tablet, laptop, smart watch, etc. makes noise or is visually distracting during class. For this reason, you are permitted to take notes on your laptop, but you must turn the sound off so that you do not disrupt other students' learning. Please leave all other devices in your bag, turn off your cell phone, and resist the urge to text (unless it’s to tell someone about all the fascinating things you’re learning in class).


Take care of yourself

Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

Carol Frieze: Home Page