Syllabus [PDF-file]

Course Overview
Prerequisites: none
Content: The course introduces the theoretical frameworks and research methodologies that underpin the study of human-information interactions and the design of technology to support or enhance those interactions. The course will emphasize how findings from studies of information behavior can be used to inform and improve the design of information systems in the biomedical context and will provide an overview of design methodologies. Examples will be drawn from clinical, consumer, bio- and public health informatics. The objectives for this class are:
  • To provide an understanding of the value of biomedical information interaction studies
  • To help students design and assess biomedical information interaction studies
  • To provide an overview and discussion of the main user-centered design methodologies
  • To enable students to design and critically assess ways to capture end user informational needs in the biomedical and health informatics context.

Course Requirements and Evaluation:
Final grade for the course will be based on the following:
Reading reflections: 20%
Class participation: 10%
Midterm: 30%
Final Project: 40%

Reading reflections (20% of the final grade)
Due for each set of readings by 8am of that Journal Club day (see schedule) - please email to the instructor. For each Journal Club, students are expected to write up a reflection that will help them prepare for the class discussion. Each reading reflection should be a couple paragraphs long (about a half page or so) and include the studentís thoughts about the assigned reading as well as a critical assessment of the material. These reflection paragraphs should include the studentís personal reflections or reactions to the articles and indicate that the student has read and thought about the articles thoroughly. The reflections should be an analysis of the articles that could include any of the following:
  • a comparison of the work to related material such as other readings in this course or any other reading that the student may be familiar with
  • suggestions for how the work could have been improved
  • a summary of ways to expand on the work
  • a critique of the work that questions its assumptions, value or conclusion
  • a personal reflection on how the articles relates to oneís own experiences
  • questions or concerns that this material raises
Reading reflections should not be summaries of the articles read. It is recommended that students print out their reflections and bring them to class to help remind them of points that they might want to make during the discussion. Grades: If students turn in a reflection paper on time, you will receive a Check Plus, Check or Check Minus (equivalent to 4.0, 3.3, and 2.5 respectively). If students do not turn in a reading reflection, they will receive a zero for that class period. Reading reflections will be graded based on the quality of the studentís arguments and the clarity of writing regardless of whether the instructor agrees with the studentís reflections. All reading reflections must be submitted by 8am on the day that the reading assignments will be discussed as the point of these reflections is to prepare both the students and the instructor for the discussions and exercises in class. The day with the lowest reading reflection score will be dropped before calculating oneís grade.

Class participation (10% of the final grade)
Students learn more when they actively participate in class, rather than merely listen to a lecture. This course is designed to maximize the learning experience by encouraging and requiring active student participation during class. All students are expected to attend class and actively participate in class activities and discussions.

Midterm (30% of the final grade)
A set of take home midterm exam questions will be distributed to class with detailed instructions; the exam will be due approximately two weeks later (as an Word document sent as email attachment to the instructor).

Final Project (40% of the final grade)
For this final project, students are asked to design (but not implement) a biomedical and health informatics system or tool of their choice. You must use one or more of the following methods to develop your design:
  • ethnography tools
  • scenario-based design
  • participatory design
Then, you need to create (but not carry out) an evaluation plan for your newly designed tool. Please send an update with your idea for the final project by May 6th to the instructor to ensure progress towards the final deliverables.

Final project report (30% of the final grade):
The final project report has to include the following:
  • motivation for your choice of topic and design methodology(ies)
  • purpose of the system or tool and intended audience, users, stakeholders
  • description of design methodologies that you chose for your study
  • detail (through a scenario) how your design would work
  • describe in detail how you would evaluate your design
  • summarize potential limitations
  • conclude with a statement of the importance of your design and future directions
This report should not exceed 10 pages of single spaced text (you can include figures or pictures as attachments beyond this page limit). One way to organize your report follows:
1. Introduction - containing motivation and a preview of what the paper and project is about
2. Design - containing a summary of your design, the connection between your design and the methodology(ies) you used, other justifications for your design decisions, and at least one scenario of use
3. Evaluation Plan - include what your evaluation goal is as well as the details for the evaluation plan
4. Limitations of the design and evaluation plan
5. Conclusions - including a summary of the key points of the paper, your view of what the important contributions of your design are, and possible future directions
6. References

Final project presentation (10% of the final grade):
Please prepare a short presentation of your project for the class. You may demonstrate your ďmock-upĒ, show storyboards, or use other means to help us understand what information problem your design helps to solve and how your design works. Your presentation should contain the same key elements as your final report, but framed appropriately for a 15-minute presentation plus 5 minutes for questions.

Accommodating Students with Disabilities: To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services: 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924 (V/TTY). If you have a letter from DSS indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to the instructor so you can discuss the accommodations you might need in the class. Academic accommodations due to disability will not be made unless the student has a letter from DSS specifying the type and nature of accommodations needed. For additional information, see Statements to Ensure Equal Opportunity and Reasonable Accommodation.

Academic Integrity
The essence of academic life revolves around respect not only for the ideas of others, but also their rights to those ideas and their promulgation. It is therefore essential that all of us engaged in the life of the mind take the utmost care that the ideas and expressions of ideas of other people always be appropriately handled, and, where necessary, cited. For writing assignments, when ideas or materials of others are used, they must be cited. The format is not that importantĖas long as the source material can be located and the citation verified, itís OK. What is important is that the material be cited. In any situation, if you have a question, please feel free to ask. Such attention to ideas and acknowledgment of their sources is central not only to academic life, but life in general. Please acquaint yourself with the University of Washington's resources on Academic Honesty.

All of the expressions of ideas in this class that are fixed in any tangible medium such as digital and physical documents are protected by copyright law as embodied in title 17 of the United States Code. These expressions include the work product of both: (1) your student colleagues (e.g., any assignments published here in the course environment or statements committed to text in a discussion forum); and, (2) your instructors (e.g., the syllabus, assignments, reading lists, and lectures). Within the constraints of "fair use", you may copy these copyrighted expressions for your personal intellectual use in support of your education here at UW. Such fair use by you does not include further distribution by any means of copying, performance or presentation beyond the circle of your close acquaintances, student colleagues in this class and your family. If you have any questions regarding whether a use to which you wish to put one of these expressions violates the creator's copyright interests, please feel free to ask the instructor for guidance.

Student Code of Conduct
Good student conduct is important for maintaining a healthy course environment. Please familiarize yourself with the University of Washington's Student Code of Conduct .