CMSC434 Introduction to Human Computer Interaction

Department of Computer Science
University of Maryland, College Park
Fall 2017


Dr. Celeste Lyn Paul (Instructor)
AVW 3173 (Please add CMSC434 in subject line)
(724) 331-3058
Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday by appointment

Deok Gun Park (Teaching Assistant)
(765) 426-7448

Class Time and Location

Tuesday/Thursday 11:00AM - 12:15PM
Computer Science Instructional Center (Room 2107)

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to introduce you to human-computer interaction from the perspective of a future software developer. You will gain an understanding of how people use technology, and how technology should be designed to support people. By the end of this class, you should understand the basic principles of the user-centered design process, how UCD is integrated into software engineering, and how to work with user experience professionals in a software engineering team.

This class will be practical and hands-on, which means that there will be a lot of design and coding activities (homework, labs, final project, etc.) and it will be as time consuming as any other computer science course.

Required Materials


You will need access to a computer on which you can do email and basic word processing, create user interface mockups, and write/compile code. A laptop or tablet that you can bring to class to work on labs is beneficial but not required. If you do not have a laptop or tablet, you will need to have a smartphone to be able to log into Canvas during class to register attendance and submit lab work.


There is no textbook for this class. Instead, we will be doing selected readings in HCI from articles that I will provide or websites that I will link to.

Prototyping Materials

We will do several levels of prototyping in this class. The following are recommended materials to complete the related Labs and Assignments:

Instructional Methods

This course’s instructional strategy will be a modified version of Team-Based Learning (TBL). TBL is used by a host of different disciplines with great success and involves students working cooperatively in small teams. You will be held accountable for your reading and preparation using a testing process known as the Readiness Assessment Process (RAP) which consists of the Individual Readiness Assessment Test (iRAT) and the Team Readiness Assessment Test (tRAT). Following the RAP, you will practice working with the course concepts and skills using a series of in-class individual and team exercises.

Course Structure

Before Class

You are expected to complete all assigned readings, iRATs, homework, and any other assignments before the class begins on the day they are due.

During Class

The beginning of class will be reserved for announcements and tRATs. In general, Tuesdays will be lecture and discussion day and Thursdays will be lab activities day. However, you should bring your sketchbook and laptop to every class.

Outside of Class

You are expected to regularly meet with your team members to work together on your final project. Homework and other assignments outside class will be specified as Individual or Team. Individual assignments must be completed on your own. While most of the real world is a collaborative environment, there are benefits to working on and figuring out problems by yourself.

Assessment & Grading

This course is designed to teach practical usability and user experience skills through hands-on individual and group activities. There will be individual and team-based homework, an individual mid-term exam, and group/team-based in-class labs. The final project will consist of several milestones (individual and team-based homework) with a final presentation. Individual work will be approximately 40% of your grade while group/team work will be 60% of your grade. There will be no final exam.

Assignments are due at at the start of class. Assignments turned in after the start of class are considered late. See Late Assignment Policy.

Extra Credit

There may be Extra Credit offered throughout the semester not to exceed 3% of your final grade. This will usually be offered as a seperate assignment, before an assignment as optional extra effort, or after an assignment as an opportunity to revise a particularly challenging assignment. There will be no Extra Credit offered for the Mid-term exam or Final Project presentations. Extra Credit will not be applied (that is, calculated into your Canvas grade) until the end of the semester.

Late Assignments

The general policy is that late work will be deducted 20% of its total grade per calendar day, starting on the same day it is due after the class start time. It is at the instructor’s discretion to accept late work and assign late penalties.

If you will miss a deadline, you must inform the Instructor or TA as soon as possible, before the assignment is due, indicating when you will submit your work. The instructor will try to accommodate your needs. You should use this clause only for extraordinary personal reasons (e.g., personal illness, death in the family, etc.).

Not all assignments can be acommodated for late work, such as tRATs and some in-class labs.

Also refer to the policies regarding Student Disability Services and Medical Excuses.

Policies and Procedures

UMD expects each student to take full responsibility for their academic work and academic progress. Please see the official UMD Course Related Policies (Links to an external site.) in addition to CMSC434 specifics stated in the syllabus.

Academic Conduct

The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council (see: (Links to an external site.)). This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit Any violation of the University’s policy on Academic Integrity will result in severe penalties, which may range from failing an assignment to failing a course (to other possibly even more severe measures).

Student Disability Services

Any student eligible for and requesting reasonable academic accommodations due to a disability is requested to provide, to the instructor in office hours, a letter of accommodation from the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) within the first two weeks of the semester. Some aspects of this course, the assignments, the in-class activities, and the way we teach may be modified to facilitate your participation and progress. As soon as you make me aware of your needs, we can work with Disability Support Service (DSS) to help us determine appropriate accommodations. Disability Support Service coordinates services that ensure individuals with disabilities equal access to University of Maryland College Park programs. DSS can be reached at 301-314-7682 and (Links to an external site.).

Medical Excuses

Any student who needs to be excused for an absence from a single lecture, recitation, or lab due to a medically necessitated absence shall:

The self-documentation may not be used for the Major Scheduled Grading Events you define in your syllabus (e.g., midterm exams, project presentations, etc.) and it may only be used for only 1 class meeting (or more, if you choose) during the semester. Any student who needs to be excused for a prolonged absence (2 or more consecutive class meetings), or for a Major Scheduled Grading Event, must provide written documentation of the illness from the Health Center or from an outside health care provider. This documentation must verify dates of treatment and indicate the timeframe that the student was unable to meet academic responsibilities. In addition, it must contain the name and phone number of the medical service provider to be used if verification is needed. No diagnostic information will ever be requested.

Religious Holidays

Rosh Hashanah (20 - 22 September) and Yom Kippur (30 September) are recognized by the University as religious observance days. The University accommodates students of all faiths on an individual basis. You must notify the instructor by the end of the first week of classes of any religious observations (including if you will observe Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) during the semester.

Course Evaluation

Your participation in the evaluation of courses through CourseEvalUM is a responsibility you hold as a student member of our academic community. Your feedback is confidential and important to the improvement of teaching and learning at the University as well as to the tenure and promotion process. CourseEvalUM will be open for you to complete your evaluations starting about two weeks prior to the last day of the term before exams begin. Please go directly to the website ( (Links to an external site.)) to complete your evaluations. By completing all of your evaluations each semester, you will have the privilege of accessing online evaluation reports for the thousands of courses for which 70% or more students submitted their evaluations. You can access results at (Links to an external site.), the same link you use to submit your evaluations. Click View Past Results instead.

Social Media

Social networks and emerging forms of media offer new opportunities for interacting with teachers. You are welcome to follow me on Twitter (@celestelynpaul (Links to an external site.)). However, I will not accept a Facebook friend request or LinkedIn request from a student until the semester has ended and grades have been posted (and even then, this is on a case-by-case basis). I do find it valuable to maintain connections to my students, and these social networks are one great way to do that but only after the semester has ended. I prefer LinkedIn for student and professional connections.

Lecture/Exam Schedule

A schedule of lecture topics, assignments, and exams will be posted to the course materials. This schedule is tentative and subject to change.

Tentative Topics:

Important dates: