CSCI 2951L: Human-Computer Interaction Seminar

Spring 2014

This seminar covers methods for conducting research in human-computer interaction (HCI). These topics will be pursued through independent reading, assignments, and class discussion. The seminar comprises four assignments that not just apply HCI research methods but push the envelope. The assignments are designed to be meaningful and have the potential to be widely visible or to be published. We will have readings that teach HCI experimental research methods and provide examples of valuable contributions.

The goal of this course is to provide students with the background necessary to perform research in HCI and the skills required to conduct human-centric research. There will be little or no content in this course about user interfaces, but students will find topics in CSCI 1950i (User Interfaces) relevant. Enthusiastic students who have not taken CSCI 1950i should contact the instructor for a registration override code. The class will meet in room 506, CIT from 1:00pm-1:50pm MWF.


Jeff Huang, 407 CIT, jeff at cs dot brown dot edu

Teaching Assistant

Alexandra Papoutsaki, 507 CIT, alexpap at cs dot brown dot edu


Crowdsourcing assignment Experiment with different crowdsourcing models to generate an accurate database of all computer science professors, including metadata like degrees, subfield, rank, and advisor. You will each be responsible for a handful of universities and we will aggregate the data at the end to make the database public, and publish the lessons learned.

Experiment bughunt Comb through six empirical papers from CHI/UIST and identify experimental errors. We will aggregate this information to find out what are the common mistakes in HCI research, and publish our findings online.

Redesign assignment Create a provocative redesign of a classic interface using the design research approach. For example, you may change the user model from action-object to object-action, or use real-world metaphors to design affordances. Popular online examples:, boarding pass redesign, automotive gesture touchscreens.

Fitts' Law study Run a variant of the classic Fitts' Law experiment, which can be combined as a class for a meta-analysis that can potentially be submitted for publication as a class.



Day Topic Reading Due Assignment
Jan 22 Overview
Jan 24 Introduction Grudin - Three faces of human-computer interaction
Jan 27 Crowdsourcing Kittur - Crowdsourcing user studies with Mechanical Turk Crowdsourcing assignment out
Jan 29 Crowdsourcing **Marcus - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Crowd
Jan 31 Crowdsourcing
Feb 3 Crowdsourcing *Bernstein - Soylent: a word processor with a crowd inside
Feb 5 Assignment midpoint Crowdsourcing assignment mid
Feb 7 Online Experiments Kohavi - Controlled experiments on the web
Feb 10 Online Experiments Discussions from online (read in order) [1] [2] [3] [4]
Feb 12 Assignment review Crowdsourcing assignment due
Feb 14 Experimental Methods Losh - Reliability, Validity, Causality, And Experiments Experiment bughunt out
Feb 19 Experimental Methods Wobbrock - Practical Statistics for HCI (ps4hci.key.pdf Chap 1 & 2)
Feb 21 Experimental Methods Kapstein - Rethinking Statistical Analysis Methods for CHI
Feb 24 Experimental Methods Nuzzo - Scientific method: Statistical errors
Cairn - HCI... Not As It Should Be
Feb 26 Experimental Methods Dell - "Yours is Better!" Participant Response Bias in HCI
Feb 28 Assignment midpoint Experiment bughunt mid
Mar 3 Design Research Tohidi - Getting the Right Design and the Design Right: Testing Many Is Better Than One
Mar 5 Design Research *Kane - Usable Gestures for Blind People
Mar 7 Design Research
Mar 10 Assignment review Experiment bughunt due
Mar 12 Design Methodology Redesign assignment out
Mar 14 Design Methodology **Norman - The Design of Everyday Things
Mar 17 Design Methodology Zimmerman - Research through design as a method for interaction design research in HCI
Mar 19 Assignment mid Redesign assignment mid
Mar 21 Qualitative Methods Adams - A qualitative approach to HCI research
Mar 31 Methodology McGrath - Methodology Matters: Doing Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences
Apr 2 Assignment review Redesign assignment due
Apr 4 Fitts' Law MacKenzie - Fitts' law as a research and design tool in human-computer interaction Fitts' Law study out
Apr 7 Fitts' Law **Soukoreff - Towards a standard for pointing device evaluation
Apr 9 Fitts' Law
Apr 11 Fitts' Law **Shoemaker - Two-Part Models Capture the Impact of Gain on Pointing Performance
Apr 14 Assignment midpoint Fitts' Law study mid
Apr 16 Systems **Landay - A Guide to Systems & Applications Research
Olsen - Evaluating User Interface Systems Research
Apr 18 Systems *Dixon - Prefab
Apr 21 Systems *Fitchett - Improving Navigation-Based File Retrieval
Apr 23 Assignment review Fitts' Law study due
Apr 24 Social Computing Symposium

* Best Paper Award winner; we will look at the corresponding reviews in class to see what reviewers liked about them.

** If you have trouble accessing this paper, an alternate link is[lastname].pdf.