CMSC434 Fall 2014 Overview

This is the only course in the undergrad computer science catalog with the word human in its title. This is not insignificant. In this course we will reposition ourselves to think about computer science not just in terms of algorithmic performance and technical sophistication but in terms of how technology can be perceived, used, and adopted by people. By placing humans at the center of our design focus rather than technology, our concerns shift in interesting and, hopefully, illuminating ways. For example, there are many ways to design and build a user-facing application—how do we know which path is the right one? What methods and guidelines can we apply to maximize our chances that our design is the most useful, usable, and enjoyable? In this class, you will learn to ideate, critique, prototype, evaluate, design and refine interactions, interfaces and applications for people.


Dr. Jon Froehlich
Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Twitter: @jonfroehlich
CS Office: 3173 AV Williams
HCIL Office: 2117F Hornbake
Office Hours: By appointment
Matthew Mauriello
Teaching Assistant
PhD Student, Computer Science
CS Office: 4122 AV Williams
HCIL Office: Cubicles adjacent to 2217F Hornbake
Office Hours: Thursdays, 3:30 - 4:30, HCIL Office;
(also by appointment). Note: emails sent at odd
hours are unlikely to get a reply until the morning
and requests for appointments should be made well
in advance.

Course Logistics

Lecture time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:45AM (75 minutes)
Section: 0101 (Dr. Sazawal's section is 0201)
Class location: Computer Science Instructional Center (CSIC) 1122
Credit Hours: 3
Class website:
Course syllabus:
Midterm: October 30, 2014 during class time (75 minutes) in CSIC 1122
Final Exam: Tuesday, December 16, 8:00-10:00AM CSIC 1122

Course Material Sources

This course is primarily based on four sources: (i) lectures/course curricula from other "Intro to HCI" (and related) classes taught, (ii) books, (iii) online media (websites, videos), (iv) my own thoughts and experiences as an HCI researcher/professor.

"Intro to HCI" Lectures/Course Curricula

I am grateful to the following professors who have all kindly allowed me to access and use their course materials: James Fogarty, Julie Kientz, and Jeff Heer at the University of Washington, Björn Hartmann at the University of California, Berkeley, Scott Klemmer at the University of California, San Diego, Eytan Adar at the University of Michigan, and Ben Bederson, Ben Schneiderman, and Leah Findlater at the University of Maryland.

I do my very best to acknowledge my sources in my lectures. In general I pull and remix most from Professors Björn Hartmann, Scott Klemmer, and Leah Findlater. :)


There are no required textbooks for this course. As necessary, I will supply scans of relevant chapters/texts. I will also do my best to include source links on my slides so that you can follow-up on topics that strike you as interesting.

I have started a Mendeley bibliography to track HCI books/resources that have helped me prepare for and think about the curriculum for this course: This is a "live" list that will be updated intermittently.

Previous Versions of this Course

I attempt to improve the course each semester. You are, of course, welcome to browse previous versions that I've taught: CMSC434 Spring2012, Spring2013, and Fall2013.