Human-Computer Interaction

CS220, Fall 2023


Classroom: L120 (HCI Lab)

This is an in-person course that consists of lectures, in-class activities, and quizzes. You will also conduct group project work, homework, and readings outside of class.

Tuesdays and Fridays 2:15pm-3:25pm (EDT)

Instructor: Vinitha Gadiraju
Office: L121
Office hours: Tuesdays from 3:30-5 PM and Thursdays from 10 AM-12 PM in L121. Click here to schedule. 

TA: Connie Gu
Drop-in hours: Wednesdays from 7-9 PM in the HCI Lab (L120).

TA: Remi Fernandez
Office hours: Mondays from 8-10 PM on Zoom. Click here to schedule. 

MAS Fellow: Zoe Mitchell
Drop-in hours: Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 AM (SCI L140), Wednesdays from 1-4 PM (Media Arts Lab in Jewett), and Fridays 8:30-11:30 AM (SCI L120). Or by appointment. 

Learning goals:

Human-Computer Interaction will delve into the fundamentals of how people interact with technology within the context of their environment, abilities, needs, and goals. We will discuss four iterative and intermingled stages of user-centered design: needfinding and how to conduct user research, ideation and design, evaluation and testing, and prototyping. This course will also touch on rising and relevant topics in computer science, such as accessibility, conversational interfaces, and ethics in design.

  • Demonstrate empathy for users and advocate for their needs through software design.
  • Demonstrate competency in Human-Computer Interaction styles and principles.
  • Apply methods from the User-Centered Design process to create interactive systems.
  • Practice design, implementation, and evalluation skills for software interfaces.
  • Communicate design rationales and operate in a team-based setting to solve problems collaboratively.


Policies and Syllabus

Course Requirements

Class attendance is essential for meeting the objectives of this course. Students are required to attend class in person. Active participation in this course, through many forms such as class discussions, small group break-outs, teamwork, is highly encouraged.

This is a project-based course that requires students to work in teams to design, implement and evaluate a mobile user interface through an iterative process. As part of your team project, you will be expected to do the following:

  • Identify a problem that could be addressed through the development and deployment of an app.
  • Develop a conceptual design for a novel user interface.
  • Implement the user interface you have designed using low and high fidelity prototyping tools.
  • Document your user interface with pictures, video, diagrams, and text in a web page.
  • Present the interface you have built in class.

There are three types of individual assignments: reflection questionnaires, reading reviews, and homework assignments. Students will also take 4 quizzes on course material through the semester.

Reading Material

There is no required textbook for this course. All reading materials are available and linked from the class schedule. If you would like to dive into the material and purchase a textbook to follow along, you can obtain one of the following books:

Don Norman's Design of Everyday Things (DOET)
B. Shneiderman, C. Plaisant, M.Cohen, S. Jacobs, N. Elmqvist, N.Diakopoulos, Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (6th Edition)
A. Dix, J. Finlay, G.Abowd, R. Beale, Human-Computer Interaction (3rd Edition)


Grades for the course will be determined by the following:
Project - 35%     
Homework assignments - 30%
Participation (submission of all asynchronous activities, participation in synchronous lectures) - 5%
Quizzes (4 total but will drop the lowest quiz score) - 30%

Grading Policy: There is no arbitrary limit on the number of A's, B's, C's etc. for the class, and every student will be assigned the grade they earn and deserve according to the rubric for each assessment.

In general, the mapping from numerical score to letter grades looks like this: 95.00+ is an A, 90.00 is an A-, 86.67 is a B+, 83.33 is a B, 80.00 is a B-, 76.67 is a C+, 73.33 is a C, 70.00 is a C-, 60.00 is a D.

Late Assignment Policy

You are encouraged to submit assignments on the requested deadline but you may submit it up to 48 hours after the deadline (weekends and holidays count in total as one 24hr period). If you need extra time beyond this grace period, it is required that you contact the instructor and discuss a plan for completing the assignment. We will work together to make sure that plan is a reasonable and effective so that it supports both your learning and your health.

Collaboration Policy

The Wellesley College honor code applies to CS220. This course emphasizes collaboration, as working effectively within teams is an important part of innovation culture. Working with a team provides you with opportunities to develop and improve interpersonal, communication, leadership, and follower-ship skills. Group assignments and team project are also important for learning integrative skills through the development of a complex system.

I strongly encourage you to get to know all of your classmates and to collaborate extensively with them. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this course, you may be strong in some areas but weak in others. Please share your strengths, and feel free to ask others for help.

Note: This course focuses on human-to-human collaboration and learning the fundamentals of user-centered design. Using/collaborating with generative AI tools (ChatGPT, Bard, Bing, Figma add-ons, etc.) is not allowed unless explicity allowed by the instructor.

Here is a summary of the collaboration policy:

  • In-class activities and discussion: This class requires your active contribution during our time together. Please come to class prepared and ready to contribute to our learning community. During class, you will work in groups for in-class activities and project work.
  • Quizzes: No collaboration.
  • Homework assignments: No collaboration.
  • Project: Teams of 3-4 students work together to complete and submit project milestones. You will be assigned to a team.

Office hours and communication

Please come to our office hours! These are welcome and open spaces for you to ask questions about course content, research, and discuss any concerns you may have. No question is unworthy of asking - these are judgement-free zones. Office hours are scheduled through the calendly links at the top of this website. We offer both in-person and zoom office hours for greater accessibility. Please limit your scheduling to 15 minutes per office hour session so that we can help as many students as possible during this time. If you need more than 15 minutes, please email the person you are scheduling with to explain what you would like to discuss. We truly love chatting with and helping students. However, there are certain communication boundaries we have established to manage our time:

  • From Monday to Thursday, we will not answer emails after 6 PM.
  • On Friday, we will not answer emails after 4 PM.
  • We will not respond to emails during the weekend or on holidays observed by the college.

Please look at the schedule, when office hours are held, and consider these time boundaries to plan ahead of time when to get help.


We are dedicated to making this course as inclusive as possible to all students. If you have a disability or condition, either long-term or temporary, and need reasonable academic adjustments in this course, please contact Disability Services to get a letter outlining your accommodation needs, and submit that letter to me. You should request accommodations as early as possible in the semester, or before the semester begins, since some situations can require significant time for review and accommodation design. If you need immediate accommodations, or during the semester, please arrange to meet with me as soon as possible. If you are unsure but suspect you may have an undocumented need for accommodations, you are encouraged to contact Disability Services. They can provide assistance including screening and referral for assessments. If you need accommodations that do not fall under the university's regular offerings, please contact the instructor or a TA as soon as possible so we can figure out how to make this class as accessible to you as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out if your needs change at any point in the semester.

Accessibility Services can be reached at, at 781-283-1300, or by scheduling an appointment online at their website