CS 601R Topics in Usability Research

This graduate course explores topics in usability research, including ethics, research methods, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, and current research in a usability-related computer science field. This semester we will use readings from usable security.

Class Info

Winter 2016 Class Meetings

2112 JKB Tu/Th 1:35-2:50

Prerequisites: CS graduate student or instructor consent


  • Understand available quantitative and qualitative methods suitable for usability research and select an appropriate method for a given problem
  • Use and apply valid statistical methods in usability research
  • Evaluate and review research papers in the area of usable security
  • Improve critical analysis skills
  • Improve technical writing skills
  • Improve verbal presentation skills
  • Gain experience identifying a research topic


Dr. Kent Seamons
Office: 2230 TMCB
Phone: 801-422-3722
Email: seamons –AT– cs dot byu dot edu
Office hours: by appointment

Dr. Daniel Zappala
Office: 2228 TMCB
Phone: 801-422-2195
Email: zappala -AT- cs dot byu dot edu
Office hours: by appointment

Learning Activities

  • Regular writing assignments
    • 1 page, 11 pt font, 8×11 paper, pdf format (300-400 words)
    • Submit online using Learning Suite for Dr. Seamons to review
    • Suggestion: solicit one external review before submitting an assignment
  • Regular reviews of other student’s writing assignments
    • Constructive feedback on both content and presentation
    • Recommended reading: Elements of Style
  • Class presentations
    • Each research paper we read will have a primary presenter
    • Spend 15 to 20 minutes to summarize key points of the paper
    • Prepare slides (10+), Concise, Clear, Graphics
    • Present your own critique of the paper
    • Presenter will upload slides instead of a peer review
  • Lab exercises
    • Practice research methods, such as a survey, cognitive walkthrough, lab user study, and/or interview
    • Practice analyzing quantitative and qualitative data

Guidelines for writing paper reviews

  • Length - 300-400 words
  • Format - PDF
  • What is the key contribution of the paper. Summarize the main points (1 paragraph)
  • Discuss strengths (1 paragraph)
  • Discuss weaknesses (1-2 paragraphs)
    • This should be your primary focus
  • What questions do you have about the paper?
  • What recommendations do you have to improve the paper or build on the results
  • If you run short of things to talk about, focus on summarizing the paper concisely


  • Students are expected to assume primary responsibility for learning
    • Unstructured and self-directed
  • Time commitment: 9 hour/week average (including class time)

Grade Distribution

  • Grades will be based on the following (tentative) distribution:
    • 15% Final Exam
    • 81% Homework
    • 4% Class participation (discussion, peer review)
cs-601r-usability/course-information.txt · Last modified: 2016/04/05 13:13 by seamons
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