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Fall 2005 Syllabus

This syllabus:

Course: CIS475-101, Friday 6-9.05pm Kupfrian 207

ASSIGNMENTS - Click to download.  Participation   Asg0   Asg1      Asg2      Asg3 

Each week: Read the chapter(s) before class, attend the class, answer and submit the lesson questions in the next class. Lesson questions

1.         Welcome to the course! It is a busy one, but you should enjoy it and learn a lot. Local changes will be directed by your instructor.


2.         Instructor. Your instructor is:

Professor Brian Whitworth


Office: ITC 4103  Office Fax: 596-5777

Office Hours: Wednesday/Friday, 3-5pm. It is polite to email or advise in advance to avoid timing conflicts


A. Aim

5.         Students will learn to evaluate computer applications, including human and organizational aspects of performance, in a scientific and objective way.

6.         This course gives the skills to carry out a case study, design a questionnaire, do interviews, and carry out a controlled experiment.  It introduces methods of analyzing data, and how to analyze an information system, whether a web site, groupware or legacy organizational software. How to identify usability problems, and test the relative merits of alternative designs. Students read journal articles about and practice methods like semi-structured interviews, user surveys, and experiments.

B. Requirements

7.         Required text book: H. Russell Barnard, 2000, Social Research Methods. Sage Publications

8, 9 Reserved

10. Prerequisite: a course in probability and statistics, or social science research methods.

C. Assessment

11. Course assessment (subject to modification) is 70% course work and 30% exams, broken down as follows:



Graded Out Of

Assignment 1. Research Design



Assignment 2. Data Collection



Assignment 3. Data Analysis 



Classroom Participation/Homework 



Examinations  Final






Note: The online/classroom/homework assessment will be provided by your instructor.

12. Dates due. All assignments due in a given week (see Timetable) are due at the beginning of the stated class period.

13. Identification. Every assignment, whether printed or presented online, must have a single line clearly visible AT THE TOP givingauthor(s) name(s), class number/section, date submitted and assignment number. E.g. “Brian Whitworth, CIS 475-101, 10/1/03 Asg2”. Without identification, you may get no grade, or lose points should your work be misplaced.
(Note: The Identification is not the Title. The title should say what the text is about, e.g. "Assignment 1" is a very bad Title because does not say what it is about).

14. General requirements. Given the number of students, your instructors cannot accept e-mail attachments, so please do not ask for this.

a.                  Loose material is not acceptable. Do not submit assignments with expensive bindings, as you may have to come to get them back. Your work is not judged by its cover. A single staple in the top left corner is satisfactory for most printed work.

b.                  WRITTEN WORK MUST BE SPELL CHECKED. Bad spelling implies carelessness or ignorance to the reader, and spell checking is easy to do!

Graders: Deduct 5%  from the final 100% grade for each failure to follow a clearly stated assignment requirement, e.g. spelling errors. 

15. Material return and ownership. All assignments submitted for this course originate in computer form. Students must retain a copy on their own computer of all assignment material submitted, as backup in case something happens to their submitted work. By submitting any material to this course for assessment, the student authorizes instructors to retain a copy of that material. Instructors may use that material, or parts of it, as long as it is student anonymous, for the purpose of instructing other students, and for the learning benefit of other students.  

16. Feedback is important in the learning process. Student assignment feedback is of two forms, general and individual. General feedback is given to all students following the grading of an assignment. It states common errors, why some people lost points and why others did well. For face-to-face classes this is done in class. No individuals will be mentioned by name. In most cases, this feedback, plus the assignment requirements, will make the reasons for the student’s grade self-evident. After receiving their grade, the student is expected to consider the class feedback, review the assignment requirements, and read what they submitted in the light of this to understand their grade. If they still do not understand their grade, they can request individual feedback. For face-to-face students this is done after class or in office hours, for DL students via email. It should be a request for more information (not a demand like "Why didn’t I get an A! "). If after individual feedback, a student is still not happy with their grade, they may query it (see Part III).

17. Reserved

18. Misunderstanding. If you don’t understand an assignment, and get it wrong, you pay because it is your responsibility to find out whatever you are not clear about. IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, ASK! 

D. Late submissions.

19.       Penalties. Assignments must be done professionally and submitted on time. Being on time is part of being professional. Plan to complete assignments with this in mind. If you leave things until the last moment, you are predictably vulnerable to the unexpected. Participation requirements are due in the class due, with no delays accepted. For assignments, the penalties for lateness are:

  • Material received on the first working day period, beginning immediately after the due date/time, will receive a one day late penalty of 5%. Note: material brought in at the end of class on the due day is one day late.
  • For each additional working day period the assignment is late, up to five days, this penalty will increase by 5% (day 2 penalty is 10%, for a total of 15% reduction)
  • Material received on the 6th working day period after the due date will not be accepted.

In case there is any confusion, the late reductions are: 5%, 15%, 30%, 50% and 75% for consecutive periods. So an assignment submitted the fifth day after due and given a grade of 100% is only awarded 25% after late reductions. It is strongly suggested you plan to ensure you submit items on time for this course.

20.       Reasons for being on time. These penalties are because late submissions cause problems for the entire class. The instructor cannot begin grading an assignment set until all items to be graded are in. Handing in assignments on time means they are returned to you on time. Our aim is to grade assignments within 1-2 weeks. Lateness can also lead to trouble and arguments. Being on time (or early) actually means LESS WORK, as "A stitch in time saves nine". Being on time is being effectual. Aim to finish your assignments ONE DAY EARLY ­ giving yourself a one day "window" to account for the unexpected. There is no extra work involved in moving your schedule one day back!  "Expect the unexpected, for it commonly occurs" (Herodotus)

21.       How to submit a late assignment. If due to pressures of life you are unavoidably late, you must decide if it is your own responsibility or due to unpredictable events outside your control. If the latter, see para 22. If it is clearly your fault do not email your instructor asking for special consideration as you will not get it. You must simply "take your lumps" and accept a percentage reduction for lateness. For in class students, SEND LATE SUBMISSIONS BY POSTAL MAIL ­ place the assignment in an envelope addressed to your instructor, and put in the nearest post box. The date submitted will be considered to be the date postmarked. If assignments are placed under your instructor’s door, unless there is a prior arrangement, the date received is the date discovered.

22.       When you have problems not of your own making. Students who due to exceptional circumstances cannot complete projects by the due date should contact their instructor as soon as possible IN ADVANCE OF THE DUE DATE to negotiate details. We will try to work something out, though exam dates cannot be moved. However, requests for extensions after or on the day due must be in writing, signed, and with supporting material (e.g. doctor’s certificate). Generally post-due-date extensions are not given, except for very good reasons, as it is unfair to students who planned ahead and did their work on time.

E. Exams

23.       Content. Exams cover all theory lecture material/online lectures, online discussion and required readings up to the exam date. They are closed book ­ you need to know certain facts and principles.

24.       Exam procedure. Before the exam students will pack away all material except for pens and script book. Students may not leave the room during the examination. Doing so concludes their examination, and their script is collected.

25.       Asking questions during the exam. Students may not ask questions about exam content. Do not ask the instructor questions like "Q5 asks ‘what standards operate for style sheets’ I don’t understand what you mean by ‘style sheet’." Asking such questions is a form of cheating, and the student will be informed of this, which may offend. Only ask if the exam question itself is unclear or ambiguous, which is usually not the case.

26.       Exam Attendance. Students must attend on the stated exam date, time and place. If you have another commitment, make an arrangement for that. Is it acceptable if your instructor does not show up to an exam because they had other business, or forgot? Clearly not, so it cuts both ways. Valid reasons for not making the exam are accident, sickness, or something outside your control. If you have a choice, e.g. an old friend comes to visit, or your boss needs you to work late, and you choose not to come, then that is your choice, but it is not a reason for me to write a second exam just for you. If you want another exam written especially for you, you must make the request in writing, describing the event(s) outside your control which caused your non-attendance, with written evidence of that event (e.g. Doctor’s Certificate, Police Report, IT report). You must make the case. Otherwise exam non-attendance is considered your personal choice.

27.       DL Exams. Reserved

F. Copying

28.       Cheating. Students are encouraged to share knowledge and experience as part of the learning process. However when producing an individual assignment students must do so by their own efforts. Presenting an assignment, or any part of it, as your own work when it is not is cheating. Cheating goes against the principles of this institute, and is viewed very seriously. It is an important academic ethic that when quoting or using another author’s work, the effort of the other person is recognized. Not to do so is called plagiarism. Cheating in any form, including plagiarism, will be dealt with according to the honor code of NJIT (course failure and suspension or expulsion). Firstly the student will be awarded zero for the assessment concerned. Secondly, any discovered case of cheating will be immediately passed to the Dean of Students for further investigation. There will be no warnings or chances with regard to cheating. This is your warning now. Cheating is not worth it - you may fail the assignment, the course, and be suspended from NJIT.

29.       Working with others. Helping another person to an unfair advantage over other students (i.e. to cheat) is also considered cheating. Therefore exercise caution in the material you give to others. If you give another person your assignment, and they submit it, you may get zero for it as well as them. Questions on assignments should be asked and answered in general terms (e.g. "What do you know about using sound?" is a reasonable question). To use your classmates and others as "resources" is encouraged. However asking "How did you do part 3 of the assignment?") is cheating. Tell such people: "Do your own work!" If two or more assignments are largely the same, all parties will be given zero points. This does not imply any particular student has cheated, only that cheating occurred. Students awarded zero points may appeal to the Dean of Students, who will conduct an investigation of the cheating. Students who cheat on a significant assessment item may fail the entire course or be asked to leave the degree program. With these consequences in mind, it is strongly recommended that you do not give electronic copies of your assignments to other students.

30.       Verification. Students may be required to individually explain, without prompting, any or all parts of any assignment. Ability to do this may be a prerequisite to receiving the grade allocated, and any student may be privately requested to this for any assessment without prejudice, or any implication or suggestion being made.

G. Online

31-36   Reserved.

H. Timetable

37.                Chapter numbers refer to the given text book. Papers are in the ACM digital library, unless a link is given.









2 Sep

L1 Information systems research.
Epistemology, rationalism, empiricism, positivism, interpretivism, cognitive approach

Chapter 1. Asg's 0 & 1 issued
Brad A. Myers, A Brief History of Human-Computer Interaction Technology, Interactions, March-April 1998


9 Sep

L2. Scientific method concepts.
Variables, measurement, unit of analysis, validity, reliability, causal relationships

Read Ch 2 carefully, Skim Ch 3



L3. Research Design. Experimental logic, confounds, random assignment, time effects, factorial design

Ch 4 Asg 0 due - no late allowed.
Whitworth, B., Gallupe, B., & McQueen, R. (2001). Generating agreement in computer-mediated groups. Small Group Research, 32(5), 621-661.



L4. Sampling. Sampling frame, population, sampling methods, sample size, central limit theorem and confidence intervals.

Ch 5






L5. Interviewing. Unstructured and semi-structured interviews, focus groups.

Ch 6. Asg 1 due. Asg 2 issued.
L. Wood, Semi-structured interviewing for user-centered design, Interactions, March-April 1997, 48- 61.


7 Oct

L6. Questionnaires and surveys. Question wording, format, response rate problem, survey techniques.

Ch 7
Williams, C. and Tremaine M., 2001, Sound News: An Audio Browsing Tool for the Blind



L7 Scales and scaling. Simple, complex, Guttman, Likert, semantic differential, testing uni-dimensionality.

Ch 8
Michael J. Muller , Lisa Matheson , Colleen Page , Robert Gallup, Methods & tools: participatory heuristic evaluation, Interactions September 1998



L8. Qualitative methods. Participant observation, ethnography, fieldwork, coding schemes, ethics

Ch 9-10
D. Wixon, Qualitative research methods in design and development, Interactions, October 1995, pages 19-24.






L9 Qualitative data analysis. Data matrices,tables causal maps, flow charts, text analysis, grounded theory

Ch 11-12
Whitworth, B., & McQueen, R. J. (2003). Voting before discussing: Electronic voting as social interaction. Group Facilitation, 3(1).


4 Nov

L10 Univariate analysis. Raw data, frequency distributions, measures of central tendency and dispersion, graphing variables, z-scores and chi-square test

Ch 14. Asg 2 due. Asg 3 begins



L11. Bivariate Analysis 1. t-test, ANOVA, cross-tabs, Lambda, chi-square, Gamma

Ch 15, p545-576
Fjermestad, J., & Hiltz, R. (1999). An assessment of group support systems experimental research: Methodology and results. Journal of Management Information Systems, 15(3), 7-149.



L12. Bivariate Analysis 2. Correlation, Spearman’s and Pearson’s r’s, regression, significance, Eta

Ch 15 p576-612


2 Dec

L13. Multi-variate Analysis. Partial correlation, multiple regression, path analysis, factor, cluster and discriminant analysis

Ch 16.


9 Dec

L14. Review

Asg 3 finishes



Reading Day

Exams 15-21 Dec


This section covers:

A.     Complaining to your Professor ­ploys that don’t work and expected responses (we do not “negotiate” grades)

B.     How to query a grade politely ­ what to do if you have a valid claim, we want to fix it!

C.     Policy on "I misunderstood" argument ­ ignorance is not an excuse

D.    Policy on getting an “Incomplete”- You have to request in writing stating what you want the incomplete on.

If you intend to complain, query, or request an incomplete READ SECTION III (else ignore it)