Human-Computer Interaction (CS3140)

Course Information

Title: Human-Computer Interaction
Institution: Metropolitan State University of Denver
Course ID: CS 3140 [CRN 34487]
Semester: Spring 2014
Meetings: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:00PM - 3:50PM
Location: Science 1011
Credit Hours: 4
Prerequisites: CS2050 with grade of "C" or better; ability and willingness to engage in independent study; programming ability to address applications of moderate complexity
Course Site:
Instructor: Dr. Jody Paul (schedule & office hours)
E-mail: jody @
Office: Science 1038 (x68435)
Campus Mail: Campus Box 38


This course applies a cognitive science approach to understanding the nature of interaction between humans and computational environments. As such, it draws upon multiple disciplines, including computer science, cognitive psychology, usability engineering, artificial intelligence, design, ergonomics, linguistics, philosophy, communication design, software engineering, physiology, and mathematics. Cognitive models provide the foundation for examination and exploration of principles of design and analysis as applied to human-computer interaction.

Some assignments include development of working software. Programming skills necessary for this course are the ability to design, test, code, and debug programs of moderately-simple complexity (~200 function points) and ~7500 lines of OOP code. To be successful in this course, students should be capable of diligently following specifications and of reading, using, and specifying an Application Programming Interface (API). Fluency with knowledge and skills addressed by Computer Science 1 & 2 (CS 1050 & CS 2050) is prerequisite for success in this course. Some platforms or languages may be unfamiliar to students with limited prior experience; pointers to references and tutorials for such platforms and languages will be provided and students are expected to acquire basic usage ability outside of class time. N.B. This course does not include review or make-up of prerequisite material.

Well-prepared students should expect to require an average of 8 to 14 hours per week outside of class.

Catalog Description

This course explores and develops knowledge that enables computer scientists to improve human-computer interaction through the exploitation of cognitive science theories about how people interact with their environments. Topics include: how people interact with each other and with computers; insights provided by models of cognition, memory, perception, attention, and thought; defining, specifying and assessing usability; and the roles of computer interface elements and behaviors. Students will examine theories and use interactive computer systems as the vehicles for the study of human-computer interaction and design for usability. Students will evaluate the effectiveness of existing interfaces and will experiment with authoring their own.

Required Reading

Cover of Norman book The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition
by Don Norman
Basic Books (2013); ISBN 0465050654

Cover of Weinschenk book 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
by Susan Weinschenk
New Riders (2011); ISBN 0321767535

Cover of Sketching User Experiences workbook Sketching User Experiences: The Workbook
by Saul Greenberg, et al.
Morgan Kaufmann (2011); ISBN 0123819598

Cover of Krug book Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability (3rd Edition)
by Steve Krug
New Riders (2014); ISBN 0321965515

The Design of Everyday Things (DOET) is up first and is also likely to require the most time and effort to absorb. Sketching User Experiences will be introduced before DOET is complete so that the techniques can be applied early and often. 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People will be threaded throughout the semester. Sections of Don't Make Me Think and Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines will apply as the relevant associated concepts arise during the course.

Cover of MHIG book Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines
by Apple Computer Inc.
Addison-Wesley Professional (1993); ISBN 0201622165
REQUIRED (complete PDF available online)

Optional/Recommended Reading

Cover of Nielsen book Usability Engineering
by Jakob Nielsen
Morgan Kaufmann (1993); ISBN 0125184069

Cover of Jordan book An Introduction To Usability
by Patrick W. Jordan
CRC Press (1998); ISBN 0748407626

Cover of Nodder book Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation
by Chris Nodder
Wiley (2013); ISBN 1118422147

Interface logo
Interface Guides (Linux, Apple, Sun, Microsoft)
Informative and useful platform guidelines

Course Policies

Class Sessions & Websites

You are expected to prepare for class sessions through preparatory reading and exercises, to participate in class discussions and activities, and to make in-class presentations. Participation in class discussions and activities is mandatory and constitutes part of the overall grade for the course.

A substantial amount of information is disseminated during class sessions and via the course website. You are responsible for knowing this information whether or not you attended the sessions or accessed the website. Note in particular that the textbooks and references provide some but not all of the information necessary to successfully complete the course.

In addition to important course and domain information, the course support website also provides the vehicle for managing assignments and assessment.

Scoring & Grading

The final course grade is determined by combining assessments of performance on in-class activities and assignments. You are guaranteed a grade no lower than that computed by the following weighted conversion of your score as percentage of total possible to corresponding letter grade:

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

Collaboration & Citation of Sources

Successful study and productivity is rarely a solitary endeavor devoid of external contributions. Collaboration, teamwork, and consultation of work by others are the norms.

Some collaborative activity is required for successful completion of this course. Collaboration is encouraged and regarded as an essential aspect of learning Computer Science and is central to multi-disciplinary fields such as Cognitive Science. Collaboration and discussion with fellow students and instructors concerning course information, materials, assignments, proofreading, and concept exploration is strongly encouraged. You are not expected to learn the course content or work on assignments in isolation on your own.

That said, you must write up your own submissions, reflecting your individual effort, for every assignment you turn in, even if the solution results from collaborative effort. In your write-up, you must credit the people with whom you worked or consulted.

If you consult any sources, you must explicitly reference the sources and indicate where and how they apply. Turning in work that does not credit collaborators, includes quotations without corresponding citations, or does not properly cite references, must be treated as academic dishonesty and an attempt at fraud.

All incidents of suspected dishonesty will be reported to the department and the Dean of the school. Consequences may include a score of 0 on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, academic probation, or dismissal from the institution. This is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. If you have any uncertainty or concerns, please discuss them with your instructor or your advisor.


Assignments represent the opportunity to better understand the concepts and to demonstrate your knowledge of the concepts and their application. Required activities outside of class include critical responses to reading (course texts, articles, and handouts) and both analytical and constructive assignments. Details regarding assignments will be provided in class or on the course website. Assignments must be turned in using the course website unless explicitly specified otherwise. In particular, e-mail and hard-copy will not be accepted in lieu of online submission.


Every assignment turned in must include a section (maximum 150 words) labeled “Reflection” in which you are to reflect on the experience of working on the assignment and describe your personal insights and observations associated with the experience. This reflection is required whether or not the assignment specification mentions it explicitly. Reflections comprise a portion of the score of every assignment.

Deliverables: Formats & Due Dates/Times

Formats of documentation files turned in for assignments must not depend on specific operating system or commercial software. The following are examples of generally acceptable formats: text (ASCII or UNICODE UTF-8), HTML, PDF, GIF, JPEG, PNG. The following are examples of specifically unacceptable formats: Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, Microsoft PowerPoint. Acceptable formats for archives include only tar, gz, and zip. Note that a deliverable submitted in an unacceptable format is equivalent to no submission at all. If you are unsure about the acceptability of a file format, please check with your instructor well prior to submission.

Deliverables associated with assignments may be submitted for scoring any time before the published due date/time. Assignments must be turned in using the course website unless explicitly specified otherwise. In particular, e-mail and hard-copy will not be accepted in lieu of online submission. To indicate submission of an assignment, you must click the Submit button for that assignment. This allows you to keep a draft version of the submission on the system; however, please note that failure to click the Submit button will result in no earned score for the assignment. Because there are so many risks to completion and submission, you are strongly encouraged to target completion of assignments no less than 24 hours prior to the published due date/time. Illness, crises, and emergency situations will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in accordance with University, School, and Departmental policies.

No assignment deliverables will be accepted more than 24 hours after the published due date/time. N.B. All risks associated with late submissions are assumed by the student. Note in particular that system and network failures occuring after the due date/time will not result in an extension of the late submission acceptance period.

Quiet Period

The 24-hour period immediately preceding the published due date/time for each assignment is considered a quiet period. During that 24-hour interval, the instructor will not address questions directly referencing that specific assignment. All students are strongly encouraged to complete assignments well in advance of this quiet period. Further, since computer systems are likely to be strained during the 24-hour period immediately preceding a published due date/time, you should not depend on such systems, including the course support servers, to be consistently available during that period.

Official Information

Official policies applicable to all courses:

MSU Denver College Catalog:
Official announcements, including Academic Policies and Procedures and Student Rights and Responsibilities

MSU Denver Academic Calendar:
Additional official dates and deadlines, including the last dates to withdraw and receive NC and holidays

MSU Denver Student Handbook:
Important Metro State and Auraria campus policies and procedures for students

WCAG 2.0 (Level AA) Section 508