SRS 200
Design as if People Mattered


Prof Hours Office Phone Email
MW 9:30-10:30
Tues 9:30-11
and by appt.
Steinmetz Hall
Room 220
Wed 10-11:30
Thurs 4-5
Fri 10:30-11:30
and by appt.
Steinmetz Hall
Room 229

Course Webpage:

Course Summary

This Sophomore Research Seminar focuses on the usability of objects -- the things that make an object easy or difficult to use, even when interacting with it for the first time. In this course, you will learn how to recognize usability (or lack thereof) in a system, design new versions of systems to increase their usability, and conduct empirical studies to evaluate the systems you develop. Specifically, this course will cover:

Things you will need

Texts (3 required)


You will need a notebook of some kind that will act as a journal. You will be required to use your journal throughout the course to record design ideas, notes on methods used, and analysis of results. Any kind of paper will do, but it might be helpful if it included some graph paper in case you wanted to record preliminary design sketches.


There will be four projects assigned during the term, and the majority of your grade will be based on them. Projects are team-based, and although grades will be given to each team as a whole, your individual grade can go up or down depending on your contribution. Each project will include a variety of activities related to effective research, design, and communication. These include, but are not limited to, literature reviews, experiment design, journaling, proposal writing, and making presentations to the class.

As this is a research seminar, much of your time will be spent in practicing what it means to do research -- both in the library and out in the world. Even though you will conduct research in the context of usability, these skills will be applicable no matter what discipline you eventually major in.

No lates will be accepted for any of the projects. There will be no midterm for the course. The day of the final exam will be used for making presentations on your final project.


What you need to do

To prepare for class, you are required to do the following:

The Bottom Line

Ask questions and seek help. This is the most important point of all. We live to answer questions. Don't be afraid to come to our offices every single day if you want. It's better for everybody (you AND us) if you understand things sooner rather than later. And you'll get the help you need faster by starting on projects sooner rather than waiting until the last minute.

Any student with a documented learning disorder is welcome to come talk to us privately about options for completion of course assignments.

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