Creating a Realistic Context for Team Projects in HCI

Author(s): Herman Koppelman, Betsy van Dijk
Venue: Proceedings of the 11th annual SIGCSE conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education
Date: 2006

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Sample Size: 35


Pages: 58 - 62
DOI Bookmark:

This paper focuses on the use of clients and users in team projects for introductory HCI classes. The goal is to provide projects with a realistic context by using people from industry as actual clients for the project. The courses material focuses on the user centered approach. Students are expected to understand the users and their tasks, design a system, and evaluate prototypes with users throughout the design process. The authors observed that the students found it highly stimulating to work with real clients in the course. This was verified by a survey administered to a class of 35 Business Information Technology students after completing their course in the spring of 2005.

The survey consisted of only three questions; It is useful that a client was involved in the team project?; The client exerted a lot of influence on the final result?; and The users exerted a lot of influence on the final result? The questions were rated on a 5-point Likert-scale. There was also an open question at the end of the same survey. An average score of over four was achieved for the first and third questions with an average score of three for the second question. The authors concluded that "the students highly appreciated the role of the client in the project" and "the students involved users in the project in a very serious way." The authors also make a number of observations about the interaction between the users and the students from their observations and from the open question presented in the survey. The authors conclude that the involvement of real users in an introductory HCI class is highly valuable.