A Framework and Implementation of User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction Instruction

By Peslak, Alan | Journal of Information Technology Education, Annual 2005 | Go to article overview
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A Framework and Implementation of User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction Instruction

Peslak, Alan, Journal of Information Technology Education


The user interface has been recognized as one of the most important elements of a software project. It had been estimated that 48% of work on a project goes into the design and implementation of the user interface (Myers & Rosson, 1992). Recently, as confirmation, Douglas, Tremaine, Leventhal, Wills, and Manaris (2002) noted the importance of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) suggesting at least 50% of programming code is devoted to the user interface. But the importance of interface design and the topics of human-computer interaction have not risen to a high level in information systems and sciences education. The importance of HCI has long gone unrecognized.

The purpose of this research paper is to develop "A Framework and Implementation of User Interface and Human-Computer Interaction Instruction". The goal is to explore the major issues that make up the diverse discipline that currently is most commonly known as human-computer interaction. Through a comprehensive review of classic, current, and pedagogical literature the essential topics that should be included in a survey course in HCI is then determined. Specific assignments that address each key area are next developed and tested. Finally, a brief review of the successes, limitations, and lessons learned from implementation of these exercises is explored. With such a large portion of systems work spent on designing the user interface for a systems project, the need for this study and its importance overall in information technology education is clear.

ACM SIGCHI defines HCI as follows: "Human-computer interaction is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them." (Hewett, et. al, 2004). The definition suggests that HCI includes both People as well as Process issues. The first portion of this report is a review of the literature on the human-computer interaction in computing and information sciences curriculum. Paradoxically, most of the work that has been done on the incorporation of HCI into the curriculum has come through the computing sciences as opposed to the information sciences, though the information sciences are often viewed as more user and application oriented. There is little mention of human-computer interaction in the IS 2002 Model Curriculum and Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Information Systems. The only mention is human-computer interface as a topic in IS 2002.3--Information Systems Theory and Practice (Gorgone, et al., 2002). The second section of this report presents an implementation of HCI into an information technology (IT) curriculum with particular emphasis on process issues of design, requirements analysis, prototyping, and evaluation and people issues of human behavior and abilities, design psychology, and collaboration. The topics which have been recognized as critical for successful HCI design is followed by practical and tested exercises for classroom adoption which incorporate these concepts. Finally, evaluations of these exercises from two sections of the author's HCI class are reviewed, providing student support for the impact of these exercises.

Research Methodology

The research methods used in this pedagogical study included the following:

* Comprehensive review of HCI and IS and IT pedagogical research

* Review of Current pure HCI research

* From the literature, a distillation of major topics that needed to be included in an undergraduate HCI course

* Specific exercises developed to address the identified major HCI topic areas

* Actual implementation of these exercises with junior undergraduate students

* Assessment of the results of these exercises through student survey and teacher assessment of quality of the projects.

* Discussion of findings and limitations of the study

The students who participated in the exercises and course content were part of a junior level course in the Information Sciences and Technology curriculum at our University named "Organization and Design of Information Systems: User and System Principles".

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