CSC 481 Winter 2002 Project
An important part of this course is the term project.
As a member of a design team of around 5 students, you
will apply the methods and skills learned in class
(and hopefully elsewhere) to the design, prototypic
implementation, and evaluation of a realistic application.
The project consists
of several parts, which will be graded separately.
Each team has to produce joint deliverables,
which will be the basis for the grades of all team members.
The team members will also be asked for feedback on the
performance of the other team members. This subjective
feedback may be used to adjust individual scores.
Team members are also required to document their
activities, e.g. in the form of work sheets.
The first part of the task will be to select an application,
and to establish the requirements that will serve as the basis for the
later evaluation of the applicatoin.
Then a prototype of your selected application will be implemented.
Note that in many cases, due to time constraints, this
prototype will not be fully functional, but it should
have a "front end" that can be used for evaluation purposes.
In the last part, the prototype will be evaluated.
Since it is obviously difficult to evaluate your own product,
the evaluation will be performed by a different team.
Finally, there will be a presentation on the project.
This presentation will focus on the last part, the evaluation,
and must include information on the initial user requirements,
design, and implementation performed by the original project
team. Both for the evaluation and the presentation it is
very important to provide the evaluators with good documentation.
This will be done with the help of design notes described next.
In your design notes, you should capture all relevant information
about your project, such as user requirements, reasons for
design choices, technical problems encountered, reasons for the
selection of development tools and environments, status reports, etc.
These design notes serve at least two important purposes:
First, they will be graded. Second, they will be used by the evaluation
team to perform the review of your project, and will contribute
substantially to the technical aspects of the final presentation
given by the evaluation team.
In order to facilitate the exchange of information, especially
between the design/implementation and the evaluation teams,
the design notes must be kept as a Web-based document;
a template is available
to give you some guidance on the organization of your notes.
If desired, a Web Page coordination group can develop
a alternative Web framework for the documentation of the projects.
This must be done early in the term, however, so that the
individual teams can develop their Web pages accordingly.
The following paragraphs provide you with more details
on the different parts of the project. Included is information
on the time frame, and the contribution of the part to the
overall grade. For exact information on the time frame,
please consult the class schedule.
Project Part 1: Selection and Requirements
The first part of the project has two main objectives:
Your team needs to identify an application to be working on,
and to clearly specify the task the system is supposed to solve.
In many cases, it will be useful to look at existing systems
for the selected or a similar application, and identify
features that are missing or can be improved.
In the ideal case, a summative evaluation should be performed
on a fully developed system that is used in a real-world
application by the actual users. Since this is practically
impossible in a classroom setting, you will have to "switch hats"
from your customary designer or programmer's perspective, and
look at the task to be performed from a user's point of view.
To establish the required functionality as well as usability aspects
is also known as requirements elicitation. For large systems,
these requirements are sometimes translated into a formal system
specification, which serves as blueprint for the actual implementation,
and as the basis for the evaluation and testing of the system.
Again, it is not practical here to perform a full requirements
elicitation or a formal specification, but you need to put
down the crucial functional features of your system together
with important usability aspects. Please note that especially
the usability aspects will be used by the evaluation team to
perform the assessment of your project. By providing concise
and clear definitions of these aspects, you will be able to
focus more on the technical aspects of the prototype implementation,
and it will be much easier for the evaluation team to derive
the evaluation criteria for the assessment of the system.
Please use this template
to prepare your documentation of the first part of the project.
- Selection of the application.
- Elicitation of the user requirements.
Project Part 2: Prototype
The two important aspects for this part are:
After clarifying the requirements for your system,
you will implement a prototype of it.
The prototype should be substantial enough for
users to play around with, and to get a feeling
for the interaction with the system.
For this part of the project, you will need to
concentrate on the technical aspects, relying
on the specifications and design notes from
the first part of the project. This is the kind
of work you're probably most familiar with;
nevertheless, you should not underestimate
the amount of time that is needed to build
In addition to the actual prototype of the system,
you will work on a a plan for the testing and
evaluation of the system. Again building on previous
work, you will describe a collection of usage
scenarios, ideally in combination with some
clearly defined benchmarks that allow a well-founded
evaluation of the system, and its comparison with
other, similar ones. You should show the overall
user interface to potential users as early as
possible, even if the prototype is not finished,
and get some feedback from them. This will help
you to incorporate changes early in the design
stages, when they are relatively cheap to implement.
Make sure to have a record of the user feedback,
either as video, audio tape, or interview notes.
- Implementation of the prototype.
- Preparation of a testing and evaluation plan.
The testing and evaluation plan should be based
on principles and methods from Software Engineering
and Human Computer Interface Design.
Keep in mind that this plan
will be the basis for the evaluation performed
by another team; even if you have a wonderful
prototype, a lousy testing and evaluation plan
is an excellent basis for an unsatisfactory
In order to facilitate collaboration between teams,
all implementations and documents must be accessible
via the Internet, either as Web-based application,
or by making the executable downloadable.
Project Part 3: Evaluation
For this part, each team will evaluate another team's project.
The evaluation team will perform the tests and evaluations
described in the previous part by the development team.
The overall evaluation will be presented to class in
a final presentation, and documented as Part 3 of the project.
The evaluation team also may suggest changes to the system itself,
and to the testing and evaluation plan. Remember that this
evaluation is done on the prototype of the system. Changes
are still relatively easy to incorporate into the final design,
and improvements for the testing and evaluation of the final
system will also be easy to incorporate. On the other hand,
this evaluation is probably restricted to a partial functionality,
and might not cover the full scope of the final system.
The final presentations for the project will be given as a joint
presentation by the development and the evaluation team.
The development team will present the task, purpose, design,
and implementation of the system, and the evaluation team
will report on the evaluation of the system. The overall presentation
must not be longer than 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes for discussion.
The development team has 15 minutes for its presentation,
and the evaluation team 5 minutes.
Presentations that go over their time limit may be
interrupted, get a lower grade, or both.
The total of 30 points per team consists of 20 points for
the development presentation, and 10 for the evaluation
If time and circumstances permit,
a quick demo of the main functionality of the system should
be integrated into the development team's part.
The discussion time can be used for questions and feedback from
the audience, or for the clarification of misunderstandings
or controversies between the development and the evaluation team.
The overall score for the project is 100 points, which contributes 30%
to your overall grade. 80 out of these 100 points come out
of my evaluation of the team project, and usually every
team member gets the same core. Up to 20 points come
from an evaluation of your team mates, calculated as
the average of all your team mates' scores for your work.
I reserve the right to change the allocation of points
for extreme cases, however (e.g. if everybody
agrees to give all the other team members the full 20 points).
I may also ask you for further documentation to support
your contribution to the team, or your evaluation of a
team member's contribution. Follow this link to a template
for the Mutual Team Member Evaluation Sheet,
or download it (with more refined formatting)
as an Excel file.
| Project Grading Scheme |
| Selection and Requirements || 15 |
| Prototype || 20 |
| Project Evaluation || 15 |
| Presentations || 30 |
| Mutual Team Member Evaluation || 20 |
A Few Notes on Teamwork
A substantial degree of your grade in this class depends on
the overall performance of your team. This can be good
(you do nothing, and still get a good grade) or bad
(you do all the work, but it is not enough). Ideally,
every team member should contribute a roughly equal share.
In reality, this is not the case because team members have
different backgrounds, experience, work habits, cultures,
etc. Just like in a professional work environment, you
have to find a balance between looking after your own interest,
and contributing to the overall team effort.
If at any point you feel that there are serious problems
with your project team, feel free to talk to me, and we
will try to find a solution.
Web pages Copyright © 1996-2002,
Franz J. Kurfess,
Last modified: Tue Jan 15 18:33:22 PST 2002