CS 352 Winter 2019
Introduction to Usability Engineering

Classroom Location: FURMAN 202
Time: MWF 11-11:50am

Instructor: Prof. Margaret Burnett
E-Mail: burnett@eecs.oregonstate.edu
Office Hours: listed on my home page
Office Hours Location: KEC 3051

TA: Doshna Umma Reddy
E-Mail: ummaredd@oregonstate.edu
Office Hours: 12:00-1:00 Tuesday, Friday
Office Hours Location: KEC Atrium


Course Description

This class will give you hands-on experience with usability evaluation and user-centered design. In this class you will not learn how to implement user interfaces, but rather how to design these based on the needs of users, which you will determine, and learn how to evaluate your designs rigorously. This is a class for those who wish to know more about usability, human-computer interaction, the psychological aspects of computing, evaluation, and/or experimentation.

There will be no programming. However, a significant portion of your grade will be based on a team project, where you will propose, prototype (using a special prototyping tool), and evaluate your own solutions.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the human centered design process and usability engineering process and their roles in system design and development.
  2. Discuss usability design guidelines, their foundations, assumptions,advantages, and weaknesses.
  3. Describe basics of human subjects research.
  4. Complete a basic human subjects research certification form.
  5. Design a user interface based on analysis of human needs and prepare a prototype system.
  6. Assess user interfaces using different usability engineering techniques.
  7. Make an oral presentation that justifies design decisions.

How the course will be conducted, method of instruction

This class is meant to be a hand-on course. This means that you will be required to work on group projects (~4 person groups) and classwork (in addition to doing readings) outside of class time. This class will also be very interactive. Participation will count towards your final grade, and I want a healthy discussion in each class session.

You are responsible for having done the reading before attending class that day and be ready to participate in the discussion. To ensure that everyone keeps up with the reading, there will be a short quiz almost every week. I may not go over all the reading material in class, preferring to spend that time elaborating or discussing that material with you. This does not mean the assigned reading is not important, or will not be covered in a test.


I have high expectations. Thus, in this class, "A" does not mean "adequate" or "nothing really wrong": instead, it means "excellent". For an A, you should expect to work hard and get the most you can out of the class.


Note: The team receives one grade for the group project. However, allocation of the grade among team members will in some cases not be equal, if team members do not contribute relatively equally to the effort.


We will also have selected readings from other sources, but you don't have to buy those.

Classroom Policies

This class is our community.

Every student should feel safe and welcome to contribute in this course, and it is all of our jobs to make sure this is the case. I will try to establish this tone whenever possible, but ultimately the responsibility for cultivating a safe and welcoming community belongs to the students—that means you! Fortunately, forming a safe and welcoming community is not too hard. A good place to start is to recognize (and continually remind yourself) of the following facts:

In short, treat your classmates as respected colleagues, support each other when needed, have fun without spoiling it for anyone else, and everybody wins.

Laptops and phones in the class

(1) You are welcome to take notes on your laptop, but this can be distracting to others, so please sit in the back if you do this. (2) If you find yourself trying to keep an eye on your emails and messages during class, know that you are missing out on a lot of information that will eventually prove useful to your project and your grade. As you'll learn in this class, we humans pay a huge cognitive tax when we try to multitask. You'll be better off as a student and a future professional if you learn to wait till after class to check your phone/etc.

Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with disabilities are determined and approved by Disability Access Services (DAS). If you, as a student, believe you are eligible for accommodations but have not obtained approval please contact DAS immediately at 541-737-4098 or at http://ds.oregonstate.edu. DAS notifies students and faculty members of approved academic accommodations and coordinates implementation of those accommodations. While not required, students and faculty members are encouraged to discuss details of the implementation of individual accommodations.

Other Resources and Links

Schedule (subject to change)

When Topics Readings Due dates and assignments
Week 1 (1/7-...) Introduction (M)
Design, PRICPE, Teams (W, F)
  • Interaction design and process: Read Rogers handout (retrieve from Canvas): 1.6.1 (goals) and 1.6.3 (affordances). (About 12 pages total.)
  • Designing: Read Rogers handout (Canvas): 9.3.top - 9.3.1. (2 pages)
  • Designing: Read Johnson book: Forward & Intro (pp. ix-xvi) and Chapter 1 (12 pages).
  • HW #1 due F 1/11, 11:00 am, on TEACH AND printed (bring to class).
  • Week 2 (1/14-...)
    Learning about your users
  • Data gathering about users: Read Rogers handout (Canvas): 7-7.4 (17 pages), 7.6-7.6.1 (9 pages).
  • Quiz #1 on Monday over week #1 readings and lectures. (Here is a sample.)
  • Project proposal parts 1,2,3 due Friday 1/18 by the beginning of class, 10:59 am, using the TEACH site. Also turn in hardcopy (1 per team) at the beginning of class.
  • Week 3 (1/21...) No class M 1/21 (university holiday)
    Learning about your users, cont.
    Designing for Human Capabilities
  • Human Perception: Read Johnson book, ch 2-4 (about 40 pages).
  • Quiz #2 on Wednesday over week #2 readings and lectures.
  • HW #2 due Friday 1/25 11:30 pm (electronically only: no hardcopy needed on this one)
  • Week 4 (1/28...) Designing for Human Capabilities, cont.
    Designing: Concepts & Prototypes.
    Mental Models.
  • Human memory: Read Johnson book, ch 7 (pp. 87-105) & 9 (pp. 121-139)
  • Human thought cycle: Read Johnson book, pp. 116-120 (from ch 8).
  • No quiz this week (too many deadlines).
  • Project Part 4: user data due Monday 1/28 by beginning of class, 10:59 am. Turn in hardcopy in class, also electronically using TEACH.
  • Remaining weeks TBA      
    Final exam (Wednesday, 3/20, 12:00 noon, in our regular classroom).    
  • Comprehensive final exam is on Wednesday, 3/20, 12:00 noon, in our regular classroom. You can bring two 3x5 index cards.

  • Margaret M. Burnett
    Date of last update: Jan. 16, 2019