IMS5302 Human factors and usability - Semester 1 , 2007 unit guide

Semester 1, 2007

Chief Examiner

Julie Fisher


Caulfield : Assoc Prof Julie Fisher


This unit aims to provide a detailed understanding of the principles and practices of user interface design for computer-based systems from a human factors perspective. Through the process of studying this unit students will come to appreciate and understand the principles behind designing for usability and be able to apply the theories, principles and guidelines for incorporating human factors in the design of computer systems. The unit will examine issues in the design of system interfaces from a number of perspectives and how this can be managed during the development process. It will explore contemporary issues in interface design, establish principles for effective design and how to build usable systems and conducted usability testing. Students will also explore the application of human factors design in other environments such as virtual reality and mobile devices.


At the completion of this unit the students will have knowledge of:

  • The principles and practices of Human Factors in the design of Information Systems
  • The importance and role of usability and usability testing in Information Systems design
  • The major issues and approaches to designing systems that take into account Human Factors
  • What constitutes good and poor design from a user perspective
  • How to conduct a usability test

At the inclusion of the unit students will better:

  • Understand the development of systems from a user perspective
  • Appreciate the difficulties users face when working with systems
  • Develop attitudes which enable them to interact effectively with users

During the process of studying this unit students will be required to put into practice some of the Human Factors skills learnt including skills to:

  • Apply the principles of Human Factors design to information systems development
  • Gather user requirements effectively
  • Design an effective user interface
  • Conduct a usability test and interpret the outcome

Students will be required to work in teams to complete some of the assessment


Before attempting this unit you must have satisfactorily completed 24 credit points of IMS 9000-level units, or equivalent; or 24 credit points of graduate level units in the Master of Information Management and Systems, Master of Information Management and Systems (Professional), Master of Information Technology or the Master of Business Systems, or equivalent; or an approved undergraduate degree in information systems (IS) or information management (IM) or equivalent. 

You should have foundation knowledge in information management and systems fundamentals.

Unit relationships

IMS5302 is an elective unit in the Systems Development major of the Masters of Information Management and Systems.

You may not study this unit and SYS3470, GCO3814, GCO5930, MMS5008 in your degree.

Texts and software

Required text(s)

Schneiderman, B and Plaisant, C (2005) Designing the user interface (4th edition) Pearson/Addison Wesley

Textbook availability

Text books are available from the Monash University Book Shops. Availability from other suppliers cannot be assured. The Bookshop orders texts in specifically for this unit. You are advised to purchase your text book early.

Software requirements

You will need access to a browser to access the unit website.

Hardware requirements

On-campus students may use the facilities available in the computing labs. Information about computer use for students is available from the ITS Student Resource Guide in the Monash University Handbook. You will need to allocate up to 2 hours per week for use of a computer, including time for newsgroups/discussion groups.

Recommended reading

This will be advised in the lectures

Library access

You may need to access the Monash library either personally to be able to satisfactorily complete the subject.  Be sure to obtain a copy of the Library Guide, and if necessary, the instructions for remote access from the library website.

Study resources

Study resources for IMS5302 are:

  1. This unit information guide
  2. The website will provide week by week guidelines on additional reading and links to those readings where available.
  3. Lecture outlines

Unit website

Structure and organisation

Week Topics
1 Background and underpinning theories
2 Guidelines and principles
3 Theories
4 Designing methods
5 Evaluation
6 Design practice and tools
Non teaching week
7 Interaction styles 1
8 Interaction styles 2
9 Interaction devices
10 Designing for the web
11 Designing user information
12 TBA
13 Student presentations


The timetable for on-campus classes for this unit can be viewed in Allocate+


Assessment weighting

 Read this section VERY carefully. 

Assessment for the unit consists of 3 assignments with a weighting of 60%, participation with a weighting of 10% and an examination with a weighting of 30%. Read this section VERY carefully.

Assessment Policy

To pass this unit you must:

gain all of the following:

  • at least 40% of the marks available for the formal supervised assessment component: 
  • at least 40% of the marks available for the assignment component.
  • at least 50% of the total marks for the unit

Where a student gains less than 40% for either the examination or assignment component, the final result for the unit will be no greater than ‘44-N’

The 40% rule applies to this unit and determines the final result for a student where the student's performance in either the examination or assignment component of the unit is unsatisfactory.

Your score for the unit will be calculated by:

Assignments Score + Participation Mark + Exam Score = Result

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Due Date Weighting
Active and constructive participation in tutorials Ongoing 10%
Critical literature analysis Week 5 (Tuesday) 10 %
Individual assignment: Design methods Week 8 (Tuesday) 20 %
Group assignment -- theory into practice Week 12 20 %
Presentation of assignment Week 13 10 %
Examination Exam period (S1/07) starts on 07/06/07 30 %

Assignment specifications will be made available on the Unit website in MUSO.

Assignment Submission

Assignments will be submitted paper submission to your tutor.  On-campus Students Submit the assignment to the tutor during the tutorial assignment is due with the appropriate cover sheet correctly filled out and attached. The due date is the date by which the submission must be received/the date by which the submission is to be posted.

Extensions and late submissions

Late submission of assignments

Assignments received after the due date will be subject to a penalty of If you believe that your assignment will be delayed because of circumstances beyond your control such as illness, you should apply for an extension prior to the due date. All applications for extensions must be made in writing to your lecturer. Medical certificates or other supporting documentation will be required.

Late assignments submitted without an approved extension may be accepted (up to one week late) at the discretion of your lecturer, but will be penalised at the rate of 10% of total assignment marks per day (including weekends). Example:

Total marks available for the assignment = 100 marks
Marks received for the assignment = 70 marks
Marks deducted for 2 days late submission (20% of 100) = 20 marks
Final mark received for assignment = 50 marks 

This policy is strict because comments or guidance will be given on assignments as they are returned, and sample solutions may also be published and distributed, after assignment marking or with the returned assignment. 


It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

It is your responsibility to structure your study program around assignment deadlines, family, work and other commitments. Factors such as normal work pressures, vacations, etc. are seldom regarded as appropriate reasons for granting extensions. 

Requests for extensions must be made in writing via email to the unit lecturer at least two days before the due date. You will be asked to forward original medical certificates in cases of illness, and may be asked to provide other forms of documentation where necessary. A copy of the email or other written communication of an extension must be attached to the assignment submission.

Grading of assessment

Assignments, and the unit, will be marked and allocated a grade according to the following scale:

Grade Percentage/description
HD High Distinction - very high levels of achievement, demonstrated knowledge and understanding, skills in application and high standards of work encompassing all aspects of the tasks.
In the 80+% range of marks for the assignment.
D Distinction - high levels of achievement, but not of the same standards. May have a weakness in one particular aspect, or overall standards may not be quite as high.
In the 70-79% range.
C Credit - sound pass displaying good knowledge or application skills, but some weaknesses in the quality, range or demonstration of understanding.
In the 60-69% range.
P Pass acceptable standard, showing an adequate basic knowledge, understanding or skills, but with definite limitations on the extent of such understanding or application. Some parts may be incomplete.
In the 50-59% range.
N Not satisfactory failure to meet the basic requirements of the assessment.
Below 50%.

Assignment return

We will aim to have assignment results made available to you within two weeks after assignment receipt.


Feedback to you

You will receive feedback on your work and progress in this unit. This feedback may be provided through your participation in tutorials and class discussions, as well as through your assignment submissions. It may come in the form of individual advice, marks and comments, or it may be provided as comment or reflection targeted at the group. It may be provided through personal interactions, such as interviews and on-line forums, or through other mechanisms such as on-line self-tests and publication of grade distributions.

Feedback from you

You will be asked to provide feedback to the Faculty through a Unit Evaluation survey at the end of the semester. You may also be asked to complete surveys to help teaching staff improve the unit and unit delivery. Your input to such surveys is very important to the faculty and the teaching staff in maintaining relevant and high quality learning experiences for our students.

And if you are having problems

It is essential that you take action immediately if you realise that you have a problem with your study. The semester is short, so we can help you best if you let us know as soon as problems arise. Regardless of whether the problem is related directly to your progress in the unit, if it is likely to interfere with your progress you should discuss it with your lecturer or a Community Service counsellor as soon as possible.

Plagiarism and cheating

Plagiarism and cheating are regarded as very serious offences. In cases where cheating  has been confirmed, students have been severely penalised, from losing all marks for an assignment, to facing disciplinary action at the Faculty level. While we would wish that all our students adhere to sound ethical conduct and honesty, I will ask you to acquaint yourself with Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Faculty regulations that apply to students detected cheating as these will be applied in all detected cases.

In this University, cheating means seeking to obtain an unfair advantage in any examination or any other written or practical work to be submitted or completed by a student for assessment. It includes the use, or attempted use, of any means to gain an unfair advantage for any assessable work in the unit, where the means is contrary to the instructions for such work. 

When you submit an individual assessment item, such as a program, a report, an essay, assignment or other piece of work, under your name you are understood to be stating that this is your own work. If a submission is identical with, or similar to, someone else's work, an assumption of cheating may arise. If you are planning on working with another student, it is acceptable to undertake research together, and discuss problems, but it is not acceptable to jointly develop or share solutions unless this is specified by your lecturer. 

Intentionally providing students with your solutions to assignments is classified as "assisting to cheat" and students who do this may be subject to disciplinary action. You should take reasonable care that your solution is not accidentally or deliberately obtained by other students. For example, do not leave copies of your work in progress on the hard drives of shared computers, and do not show your work to other students. If you believe this may have happened, please be sure to contact your lecturer as soon as possible.

Cheating also includes taking into an examination any material contrary to the regulations, including any bilingual dictionary, whether or not with the intention of using it to obtain an advantage.

Plagiarism involves the false representation of another person's ideas, or findings, as your own by either copying material or paraphrasing without citing sources. It is both professional and ethical to reference clearly the ideas and information that you have used from another writer. If the source is not identified, then you have plagiarised work of the other author. Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty that is insulting to the reader and grossly unfair to your student colleagues.


Communication methods

Please email your tutor or Julie Fisher or telephone 99032621


Notices related to the unit during the semester will be placed on the the Unit Website. Check this regularly. Failure to read the Notices newsgroup is not regarded as grounds for special consideration.

Consultation Times

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors as outlined below.

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

If direct communication with your unit adviser/lecturer or tutor outside of consultation periods is needed you may contact the lecturer and/or tutors at:

Associate Professor Julie Fisher
Associate Professor
Phone +61 3 990 32621
Fax +61 3 99032005

All email communication to you from your lecturer will occur through your Monash student email address. Please ensure that you read it regularly, or forward your email to your main address. Also check that your contact information registered with the University is up to date in My.Monash.

Last updated: Feb 27, 2007