Ph.D. CS Human-Computer Interaction Body of Knowledge

The HCI Qualifier: What are we looking for?

Overall, we seek that students gain a deep understanding of the fundamental research paradigms and thrusts of our discipline. We seek thoughtful, thorough responses to questions on the exam that show a student is familiar with past related research, is able to analyze a problem and identify key issues therein, and is able to speculate on future directions. Being able to compare approaches, discuss advantages and disadvantages of tactics, and make critical judgments about the applicability of research methods is key to positive performance on the written exam. Being able to demonstrate that one's own initial research in the HCI area is informed by a deep understanding of the HCI research paradigm(s) is also important for the oral portion of the qualifier, as demonstrated by publishable quality work and a prepared presentation.

Research Themes in HCI

The Qualifying Exam is divided into two major sections: Design Process and Theory (CORE) and Special Topics. Students will be expected to answer questions in the Design Process and Theory (CORE) portion of the exam. Students are also expected to select two Special Topics for which they will answer questions on the exam. Below is a further breakdown of these major sections, with links providing relevant reading lists.

Design Process and Theory (CORE)

These topics permeate all research in HCI and, as a result are areas that should be well understood by all students preparing for the HCI Qualifier

Special Topics

These themes are important subsets of HCI research in the College of Computing. We expect each student preparing for the HCI Qualifier to be expert in at least one of these specialized areas.

Beyond the methods listed above to gain background knowledge of the discipline, we encourage students to form reading/discussion groups to help familiarize themselves with the research literature of HCI. Furthermore, we encourage students to become involved in the research groups and group meetings that are pertinent to their own personal research interests. This can help a student gain a deep understanding of a particular area, which is beneficial on the Qualifying Exam.