CSCI310 Fall 2020 Course Syllabus

An introduction to understanding human behaviour as it applies to interface design, implementation, and evaluation. Topics include: design issues and goals, the limits of the human cognitive system, user-centered design, prototyping, establishing requirements, evaluation techniques, and design implications of emerging technologies.

General Course Information


Sarah Carruthers

  • Email: sarah.carruthers at
  • Office: 315/217
  • Office Hours: Wednesdays 13:00-14:00 via Zoom. Please email for code

Course Website

VIU Learn


All labs and lectures will be held using Zoom. Room links and passwords will be available on VIU Learn

  • Lecture Schedule:
    • Monday, Wednesday 08:30-09:50 PST
  • Lab Schedule:
    • Labs begin second week of classes
    • Please attend your registered lab. Attendance is mandatory

Required Technology

This course will run online, and therefore students are required to have access to a minimum level of technology to successfully collaborate with classmates. This includes:

If you are lacking in access to any of the above technologies, please contact the instructor to discuss options (which may include using the Library Commons for wireless access.)


  • User-centered Design in Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • Requirements Gathering
  • User and Task Analysis
  • Conceptual Models and Design
  • Prototyping Techniques
  • Design Principles
  • Psychological Principles
  • Evaluation Techniques (expert and user)

Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Establish target users, functional requirements, and interface requirements for a given computer application
  • Describe and explain user interface design principles, and apply them to design an interface
  • Develop interface designs using rapid prototyping methods
  • Evaluate user interface designs through usability inspection and user models
  • Develop user studies and analyze study data to gain information about users, tasks, and interface designs
  • Choose appropriate methods for specified goals and justify the choice

Course Schedule

This course will consist of 5 modules, with each module one to three weeks in duration

  1. Introduction to HCI, User-centered Design, and Team Based Learning
  2. Requirements Gathering
  3. Conceptual Design and Prototyping Techniques
  4. Implementation
  5. Evaluation Techniques
Each module will consist of:
  • Assigned reading
  • Reading assessment
  • In-class activities

Module 1 will be delivered online in lecture during the first week or so of classes

A detailed schedule is available on VIU Learn.


Recommended Texts:

This course will make use of a number of resources, including:

  • book chapters
  • online articles

Please see VIU Learn for an up-to-date list of resources for each module.


This is a heavily project-based course, and so the bulk of the course grade will be based on the project deliverables. The remainder of the grade will be split up among Readiness Assessment Tests (one per module), participation marks (throughout the course), and exams.

  • Individual Reading Assessment Tests (iRATs) (3% each): 15%
  • Team Reading Assessment Tests (tRATs) (2% each): 10%**
  • Project (multiple deliverables): 50%
  • Participation: 10%
  • Exams: 15%

** Note: for each tRAT, you must earn at least 50% on your iRAT to qualify for the tRAT grade portion. If you fail to achieve 50% on your iRAT, your individual score will be used for both the team and individual grades. This is designed to encourage all team members to adequately prepare for the RAT.


Each team will, over the course of the term, work on a project that has a number of deliverables. Time will be spent in class (online) working on these deliverables and getting peer feedback. Details of each deliverable and their deadlines can be found on VIU Learn. The project will include an opportunity to learn, hands-on, the following:

  • Writing a project proposal
  • Performing and documenting the requirements gathering process
  • Develop Personas and Task Scenarios
  • Perform a Conceptual Design
  • Develop prototypes of varying fidelities
  • Perform evaluations of prototypes
  • Modify a prototype based on the results of an evaluation
  • Design a formal usability study
  • Give a presentation of your study

Readiness Assessment Tests

Each course module will begin with assigned readings that all students are responsible for completing before class.

Readings will be assessed using Reading Assessment Tests (RATs). Reading assessments will be completed online individually prior to the start of the module, and then as a team synchronously during a scheduled lecture time.

Each student will receive their individual (iRAT) grade and the team grade if they receive at least 50% on their iRAT. Otherwise they will have the iRAT mark applied to both grades. This is to encourage all team members to come to class prepared. Details are available on VIU Learn.

Any student who misses a RAT session without prior permission of the instructor, or valid medical reason will receive a 0 on both the individual and team portions of that module's RAT.

Make up assessments will not be given without prior permission of the instructor, or valid medical reason. Again, this is designed to encourage everyone to prepare ahead of time.

In-class Participation

Student attendance and participation is required. Each module will be assessed with an in-class Reading Assessment Test (RAT). During class time, you will have the opportunity to work with your team on your project and get peer feedback to improve your design and work. Attendance will be monitored by presence and activity in class Zoom sessions, as well as with active participation in discussion logs during team activities.


There will be a midterm and a final exam.

Grading Scheme

The following scale will be used. The instructor reserves the right to lower the numerical score required for a particular letter grade if that seems appropriate, but the same conversion will be applied to all persons in the class. Under no circumstances will the numerical score required for a particular letter grade be raised.