CMSC434 Fall 2013 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.


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Dr. Jon Froehlich
Assistant Professor
Twitter: @jonfroehlich
CS Office: 3173 AV Williams
HCIL Office: 2117F Hornbake
Office Hours: By appointment
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Matthew Mauriello
Teaching Assistant
CS Office: 4122 AV Williams
HCIL Office: Cubicles adjacent to 2217F Hornbake
Office Hours: Mondays (2:30 - 3:30) or by appointment

Course Logistics

Lecture time: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2PM-3:15PM (75 minutes)
Class location: Computer Science Instructional Center (CSIC) 2120
Credit Hours: 3
Class website: http://cmsc434-f13.wikispaces.com
Course syllabus: http://cmsc434-f13.wikispaces.com/Syllabus
Midterm: October 24, 2013 during class time (75 minutes) in CSIC 2120
Final Exam: December 19, 10:30AM-12:30PM CSIC 2120

We will largely rely on Piazza for course communication. However, I have also enabled the course mailing list:
cmsc434-0101-fall13@coursemail.umd.edu, which I may use from time to time (e.g., when Piazza goes down as it seems to be this morning).


This schedule is subject to change (though not dramatically) throughout the semester. Right-click on the image to open it in a new window. The dark gray boxes are assignment lines. The orange boxes indicate when assignments are due.

You can also download the Excel version here:

Course Material

This course is primarily based on two sources: (i) lectures/course curricula from "Intro to HCI" (and related) classes taught previously at UMD as well as at other universities and (ii) books.

"Intro to HCI" Lectures/Course Curricula

This course is an amalgamation of my own thoughts and ideas, content from the assigned readings and books, as well as course materials from Professors James Landay, James Fogarty, Julie Kientz, and Jeff Heer at the University of Washington, Björn Hartmann at the University of California, Berkeley, Scott Klemmer at Stanford (now UCSD), Eytan Adar at the University of Michigan, and Ben Bederson, Ben Schneiderman, Leah Findlater, and Evan Golub at the University of Maryland--all of whom have kindly allowed me to use their course materials in my class. I do my very best to acknowledge my sources in my lectures.

Since some have asked, I probably pull on and remix material from Professors Björn Hartmann, Scott Klemmer, and Leah Findlater the most. :)


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: http://www.mendeley.com/groups/3624331/hci-books/. 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 and Spring2013 .