User Centered Research and Evaluation

SPRING 2017  
Monday/Wednesday  |  6:30 - 7:50pm 
Location:  407 S. Craig St. (First Floor Design Classroom)

Course Description

This course includes a learn-by-doing environment to educate students from all backgrounds about the human-centered research process and evaluation techniques. Lectures and readings will occur offline, and class time will be used for small group work, in-class exercises and discussion. The course is broken into two parts. The first is a small group project that will step students through the planning, method selection, data collection, analysis and synthesis, and communication of a human-centered research project. The second includes learning a series of methods and tools for usability testing and evaluation of existing products. No coding is required.

This course acts as a baseline to help students perform research and evaluation in industry. A big part of this class is to give students the time to perform these methods thoroughly, so when met with a challenge in the real world they will understand the possible methods and know how to apply them.  This course will require students to collaborate well together, and the pace may be a bit overwhelming, just like working in a design consultancy. 

Learning Objectives 
Each assignment for this course will teach students about empathy, attention to detail, collaboration, and research or evaluation methodologies and practices. Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to do the following:

The Hard Skills

   Plan human-centered data collection: scope setting, method choice, territory mapping
   Understand and perform research data collection techniques like: contextual inquiry, surveys, facilitated workshops, retrospective interviews
   Build research collection and analysis tools
   Analyze and synthesize data
   Formulate high level findings, discover key insights
   Understand and perform evaluation techniques like: a/b testing, heuristic evaluation, cognitive walkthrough, think aloud
   Communicate findings, insights and testing results, in planned presentation format
   Business value for research and evaluation

The Soft Skills (sometimes more important than the hard skills)
   Empathize with other humans
   Collaborate with others in a supportive environment
   Give and receive feedback in a constructive way
   Understand how human-centered designers collaborate with their clients

Course Cadence

There is a strong cadence to this course. Students will have a mixture of reading, lecture and video reflections weekly. Each day in class will contain activities to hone a specific skill, discussions about pertinent topics, and time to work through team challenges. The course is split into two halves. During the first portion of the course, research, students will be assigned a team for 7 weeks. During the second portion of the course, evaluation, students will rotate (electronically randomized) through different teams.

It may feel like organized chaos at times, but please know there’s a method to the madness. In industry, you’ll need flexibility and agility to stay focused on your task at hand. It will require that you give your ‘all’ to every class, and every team. 

Building and Room Access
Please REQUEST CARD ACCESS to 407 South Craig, Room 104, as soon as you are admitted into the class.

Class Participation and Attendance

Students are expected to attend class, arrive on time, participate effectively on a team, and offer comments on readings and during critiques. If students need to miss a class, they must send an email to their professor ahead of time and inform their teammates that they will not be attending a specific class. 

Taking Care of Yourself: A Message to Our Students
Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

There will be a short lecture at the beginning of each class, please bring food. It's a weird hour, I want you be awake and comfortable for each class.

Jenna Date is an Adjunct Professor at the HCI Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and is the Principal at her own design consultancy. Her experience stretches from human-robot interactions, big data user experiences and visual interfaces, and customer services that meet the needs of business, technology and the humans that use them. In the past Jenna directed the Masters in Human-Computer Interaction (HCII) at Carnegie Mellon, and taught the MHCI and BHCI capstone projects.
Jenna Date
Office hours: Monday and Wednesday 4:30-6:00pm, 407 S. Craig Street, Suite 101