Project Overview

In this course, you will complete a final project. You may work in groups of up to three.

These projects are intended to focus on the frontiers of HCI. They are not a typical human-centered design project, where you apply existing knowledge from HCI to a known problem. Instead, the goal should be to extend our knowledge of HCI in some way. The most successful projects will identify a gap in our knowledge and introduce a new idea to the world of human-computer interaction.

There are several common types of project in this class:

  • Building a prototype system that explores new design or engineering territory. This type of project aims to propose a new approach to the design of of an interactive system.
  • Conduct an in-depth study in the vein of social science. This type of project should be teaching us something general about people or their interactions with technology. Naturally, a much more thorough and methodologically rigorous study will be expected of projects that do not involve system building, so please focus on this direction only if you have substantial experience in social science.
  • If you are already engaged in HCI research with a faculty member on campus, we encourage you to use your ongoing research project as your course project, since this is already expanding on a gap in HCI.
The topic is up to you. If you are interested to understand the current frontiers of HCI knowledge in an area, use Google Scholar to search for publications on the topic. The other approach is to follow up on the references at the end of course lecture PDFs—find the most related work, see who it cites, then use Google Scholar to see who cites it. The goal of the project abstract is to help you scope your work appropriately.

You can choose your own team members. They do not need to be in the same section as you. When discussing a potential partnership with someone, you should discuss your background (e.g., programming proficiency or other skills you bring), availability (e.g., do you plan to primarily work evenings or mornings? weekdays or weekends?), motivation level (ambition for a Turing award? Or is this class not your main focus this quarter?), and grading (aiming for a ___). Set a regular meeting schedule. It's important to be honest with your partners up front, and to follow through on commitments you make.

A very good CS 347 project will be a publishable or nearly-publishable contribution. Some of our students each year go on to submit their projects to major HCI conferences such as CHI, UIST, IMWUT and CSCW. Below are some examples of previous successful final projects. Because several of these projects are the eventual publications, their page length may differ from your final deliverable:

For information on how the project will be evaluated, see the individual rubrics under each assignment and the grading page.

Project Abstract

You and your group will submit an abstract of the project that you will be pursuing. The abstract should aim to be around 500 words with citations in ACM format. Use the standard HCI paper format: Overleaf (LaTeX) or Microsoft Word.

Your abstract should cover the following:

  • Goal: What is the problem that you are solving, or the question you are answering? Why is it important? For strong examples, read the first couple of paragraphs in the Introduction section of systems/applications papers in this course or on the HCI Group web site.
  • Related work: How has prior work addressed this or similar questions? Cover at least 4-5 pieces of published research, and summarize what they know. Use Google Scholar as well as the references section in papers listed in this course to start poking through related work.
  • Contribution: What is the unique knowledge that your project is contributing beyond that related work? In other words, what is your "aha!" insight that others haven't established? How does it solve the problem or answer your question? Keep in mind that even impressive technology prototypes are, at their core, establishing a thesis.
  • Method: What will you do? What, concretely will you create, or how will you study the phenomenon? If this is a system, include a low- or medium-fidelity sketch of the envisioned system. If this is a study, describe your proposed method in detail, including measures, conditions (if applicable), and recruitment plan.
  • Team coordination plan: What is your team's meeting plan? When and where will you be meeting each other? Who is taking leadership of what? Who will do what if things run behind or someone gets ill, and do team members have other major deadlines this quarter that need to be accounted for? Has everyone agreed that this is a fair division of contributions?

Grading rubric

Typically, "proficiency" indicates that the work is deserving of some flavor of A, and "mastery" a strong A.

Category Insufficiency Adequacy Proficiency Mastery
10 points
The goal is unclear, unimportant or not well-motivated. The goal is clear but only motivated at a mediocre level. The solution feels like a hammer trying to find a nail. The goal is clearly articulated and well-motivated. The goal poses a novel perspective or a major opportunity for innovation.
Related work
5 points
Major related work is missing. Much of the relevant related work is present, but either some is missing or its relationship to this project is weak. Related work is present and well-represented. Its relationship to the project is clear.
10 points
The contribution is not well described or has been covered previously in prior work. The contribution is clear, but makes only an incremental contribution to the field. The contribution delivers a reasonably novel idea relative to the literature. The contribution makes a significant contribution to the literature.
10 points
The approach is unlikely to demonstrate the stated contribution. The approach might demonstrate the stated contribution, but is vague, incomplete, has methodological flaws, or there are obvious better approaches. The approach is likely to demonstrate the stated contribution, but has some minor flaws or is overly complicated. The approach is valid and well thought through.
5 points
Project may need to be substantially rescaled to represent an appropriate level of ambition. Project is scaled appropriately in terms of contribution and timeline.

Project Milestone

This is your checkpoint for the project. The goal is to focus on prototyping or piloting the core element of your idea. Reflect on your abstract and its core insight or question, and focus on directions that direct tackle it. Do not spend much time working on aspects of the project that are orthogonal to your core idea. For example, if you are creating a new debugging interface, focus on implementing one or two scenarios with special case data, not the entire underlying infrastructure or the overall IDE plug-in architecture.

If you are creating a system, the deliverable is a basic working prototype of your research idea. It does not need to be polished, but you should have the basic idea at a functional prototype level. If you are running a study, the deliverable is pilot results from at least five people who ran through an early version of your study, including a first round of data analysis.

Submit an updated abstract that shares your project status. Update your writing in the abstract based on the staff feedback---your goal and approach. Then, share an update on your progress: your preliminary results. Finally, report your team's plan and coordination strategy from here through the end of the quarter. Have there been any coordination challenges, and if so, how is your team updating its approach from here on out?

Grading rubric

Typically, "proficiency" indicates that the work is deserving of some flavor of A, and "mastery" a strong A.

Category Insufficiency Adequacy Proficiency Mastery
10 points
The approach is too thin to evaluate the idea. Critical components are missing. The project has made basic progress, but it is only barely at a depth to point to feasability or next steps. The project has made progress on exercising the main idea, enough to provide evidence of its final feasibility. The project has struck at the core of the idea, has made meaningful progress, and is on track for completion.
5 points
Too diffuse: attempting to prototype/pilot too much of the idea at once meant that the core question was largely left unexplored. The project explores the main question or insight, but also spent significant time on less critical aspects. The project focuses directly on the most important parts of the project.
3 points
Plan is underspecified, not ambitious enough, or too ambitious. Plan clearly details the goals for the rest of the quarter and realistic timeline to achieve them.

Final Poster

At the end of the quarter, you will present your project in person to the class via a poster session. Your poster should cover the same topics as your paper, to an audience member who is familiar with the material from CS 347.

In person attendance is required at the poster session unless you have gotten explicit permission from your team and the course staff.

Rubric for Final Poster

Typically, "proficiency" indicates that the work is deserving of some flavor of A, and "mastery" a strong A.

Category Insufficiency Adequacy Proficiency Mastery
10 points
The thesis, method and results are unclear. The basic thesis of the work was communicated, but major components were buried or confusing. The main ideas were clear, but the details were confusing, incomplete, or signaled a misunderstanding. The poster clearly sets out the project's goals, results, and implications, and all details were clear.
7 points
The poster was unconvincing in its communication of the core problem, question, and solution. The poster was unconvincing in its communication of at least one of the core problem, question, or solution. The poster made a reasonable case for the importance, novelty and validity of the project. There was at least one noticeable weak point in the argument. The poster made a strong case for all aspects of the project, and did so with forcefulness and flair.

Final Paper

In addition to the presentation, you will present your findings in a final paper. This paper should be written in the same style as the papers we have been reading all quarter. However, it will be shorter, so pay attention to space limits. See examples here, noting that your length and format may differ as detailed below.

Page limit: Final papers should be roughly 4000-5000 words long, not including references, in the CHI Proceedings format. Appendices are acceptable and optional (they don't count towards the page limit), but won't be graded. Add one for materials you want an interested reader to see, but don't need to be graded.

Each team member should fill out a Team Dynamics Survey prior to the assignment deadline. We cannot release grades for a team until all team members have filled out the survey.

Here are a few suggestions for preparing your paper:

  • Find a paper that you particularly like because of how it's written, and use it as a template. This paper needn't be on the same topic, but a close mapping in terms of type of contribution (e.g. a tool paper vs. a theory paper) will give you more guidance as to how to structure your paper.
  • The title and abstract are the most important parts of a paper, and should clearly convey what you did. Motivate your specific problem (not the field as a whole), and focus on what you did. After reading the abstract, the reader should know what your contribution is – don't speak in generalities. For example, instead of saying "We analyze different methods for preparing cookies with interesting ingredients by running a user study.", say "We present three new recipes for chocolate chip cookies each employing a unique ingredient: jellybeans, tofu, and corn nibblets. Cookies were compared using a blind, within-subjects taste test with 30 individuals. The cookie with tofu was found to have superior mouth feel when compared with the other two, but subjects preferred the taste of the corn cookie by a 2:1 margin."
  • Review the Project Abstract assignment. Make sure you clearly address each of the important bullets from the abstract in your final paper.
  • Use pictures to show your interface and graphs to present your data. Graphs should generally aggregate across participants, and show standard error bars. (Only show individual data points if the reader learns something more by doing so.) Figures should be captioned with what you believe the reader should infer from the figure (e.g. Participants rated tofu cookies to have 25% better mouth feel. Differences between jellybeans and corn nibblets were not significant). Whenever possible, figures should be understandable without reading their captions.
  • Rubric for Final Paper

    Typically, "proficiency" indicates that the work is deserving of some flavor of A, and "mastery" a strong A.

    Category Insufficiency Adequacy Proficiency Mastery
    10 points
    Unclear or indistinguishable from standard application development. Vague, only of tangential relevance to the HCI community, or overly incremental in nature. A clear thesis, but not cleanly articulated as a novel contribution beyond prior work. A clear thesis that extends our knowledge about HCI.
    10 points
    The project has some complete components, but critical aspects are incomplete. The basic elements of the project are complete, but either they are flawed or important aspects are still missing. All relevant aspects of the project have been completed, but they have flaws. The thesis has been explored and demonstrated thoroughly through the project and writeup.
    5 points
    The evaluation or study is incomplete or has major analysis flaws. The evaluation or the study is complete, but has significant analysis flaws. More leniency is applied to systems projects on this rubric item. The evaluation or the study is complete and convincingly argues for a result.
    Related work
    5 points
    The description of related work is incomplete or surface-level. The writeup covers major points of related work, and explains how this project extends them.