Link Search Menu Expand Document

CS449/649 F23 Human-Computer Interaction


  • Dr. Jian Zhao, Assistant Professor, Cheriton School of Computer Science
  • Email: jianzhao[at]uwaterloo[dot]ca

Teaching Assistants

  • Lydia Choong, MMath
  • Lucy Wang, PhD
  • Ryan Yen, MMath
  • Yuzhe You, PhD

When and Where

  • LEC 001: Tuesdays 2:30-5:20pm @ MC 4021
  • LEC 002: Thursdays 2:30-5:20pm @ PHY 313

Course communication

  • Piazza: Q & A, announcements, discussion, etc. Link
  • MS Teams: Access to lecture slides and videos, deliverable submission, file storage, private chat with teammates, TAs, and the instructor, etc. Download
  • Zoom: Live communication in necessary remote scenarios, such as user interviews, team meetings. Download
  • Email: Additional communication, for specific course-related questions for the TAs and instructor.

Office hours

  • Fridays 3-4pm
  • Virtually via the #Office-Hours channel on MS Teams with the TAs or instructor


Aug 15, 2023: For CS 649 students who wish to be added to the waitlist, please fill in this online form.

Sep 15, 2023: All students should be automatically added to the course MS Teams workspace within the first week. All communication will happen there. Please let the instructor know immediately if you have not received the invitation to the MS Teams workspace.


Human-Computer Interaction teaches the fundamental issues that underlie the creation and evaluation of usable and useful computational artifacts. Through lectures, assigned readings and design activities, students will work in teams of 4-5 to design a solution for a real-world problem. The end result of the project is a high fidelity interactive prototype of an application, targeted at solving a particular real-world problem. Here is a list of this year’s project topics.

Specifically, you will learn to:

  • Identify the primary luminaries relevant to Interactive Design and HCI
  • Identify your target users, design studies to understand your users and their needs within a sociocultural context
  • Create user data driven designs and prototypes of different levels of fidelity
  • Design studies to evaluate design during different stages of development
  • Properly gather and analyze qualitative and quantitative data from exploratory user studies including data from: in-situ observations, semi-structured interviews, paper prototype evaluation, heuristic evaluations and cognitive walkthrough.
  • Discover the range of HCI research methodologies
  • Add a high quality design of an interesting product to your portfolio

There is no midterm or final exam for this course. There is also no programming involved. This is a highly-interactive course, and thus your active involvement is important. For more details, please see the course information (for marking schemes and graded components) and course schedule (for readings, activities, assignments, and project deadlines).

Course Policies

Course Enrollment

Enrollment to the course after the second week needs an instructor’s approval, since this is a project-based course which requires teams to be formed.

In-Class Attendance and Participation

This course is designed for in-person delivery, you are expected to attend lectures and studio activities during scheduled times. The instructor reserves the right to adjust the marks based on the attendancy throughout the term.

Late Penalties

All deliverables need to be submitted by the posted due time and date. Late work will be deducted 5% of the total marks per calendar day late. The instructor reserves the right to accept late work or not. Students must inform the instructor if they have to miss a deadline for special situations such as academic travels, illness, and emergencies.

If a deliverable was not submitted before the next deliverable due date, you will get 0% for this deliverable. Furthermore, you are not allowed to submit the next deliverable if the previous deliverable was not submitted. Failing to submit all the deliverables by the end of the term may result in failing the course.

Note due to COVID-19

In the event of a short-term cancellation of in-person classes due to COVID-19 related causes (e.g., an outbreak on campus, the instructor having COVID-19-like symptoms), lecture videos will be uploaded for students to watch remotely. A longer-term cancellation will be handled similarly. Students who cannot attend in-person classes due to self-isolation will still be able to watch recorded lectures.

Academic Integrity

In order to maintain a culture of academic integrity, members of the University of Waterloo community are expected to promote honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.]


A student who believes that a decision affecting some aspect of his/her university life has been unfair or unreasonable may have grounds for initiating a grievance. Read Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances, Section 4. When in doubt, please be certain to contact the department’s administrative assistant who will provide further assistance.


A student is expected to know what constitutes academic integrity to avoid committing an academic offence, and to take responsibility for his/her actions. [Check the Office of Academic Integrity for more information.] A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or about “rules” for group work/collaboration should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor, or the undergraduate associate dean. For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students should refer to Policy 71, Student Discipline. For typical penalties, check Guidelines for the Assessment of Penalties.


A decision made or penalty imposed under Policy 70, Student Petitions and Grievances (other than a petition) or Policy 71, Student Discipline may be appealed if there is a ground. A student who believes he/she has a ground for an appeal should refer to Policy 72, Student Appeals.

Note for Students with Disabilities

AccessAbility Services, located in Needles Hall, Room 1401, collaborates with all academic departments to arrange appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities without compromising the academic integrity of the curriculum. If you require academic accommodations to lessen the impact of your disability, please register with AccessAbility Services at the beginning of each academic term.

Intellectual Property

Students should be aware that this course contains the intellectual property of their instructor, TA, and/or the University of Waterloo. Intellectual property includes items such as:

  • Lecture content, spoken and written (and any audio/video recording thereof);
  • Lecture handouts, presentations, and other materials prepared for the course (e.g., PowerPoint slides);
  • Questions or solution sets from various types of assessments (e.g., assignments, quizzes, tests, final exams); and
  • Work protected by copyright (e.g., any work authored by the instructor or TA or used by the instructor or TA with permission of the copyright owner).

Course materials and the intellectual property contained therein, are used to enhance a student’s educational experience. However, sharing this intellectual property without the intellectual property owner’s permission is a violation of intellectual property rights. For this reason, it is necessary to ask the instructor, TA and/or the University of Waterloo for permission before uploading and sharing the intellectual property of others online (e.g., to an online repository).

Permission from an instructor, TA or the University is also necessary before sharing the intellectual property of others from completed courses with students taking the same/similar courses in subsequent terms/years. In many cases, instructors might be happy to allow distribution of certain materials. However, doing so without expressed permission is considered a violation of intellectual property rights.

Please alert the instructor if you become aware of intellectual property belonging to others (past or present) circulating, either through the student body or online. The intellectual property rights owner deserves to know (and may have already given their consent).

Copyright © 2023 Jian Zhao.