UE Human in the Loop

Degrees incorporating this pedagocial element :


Users’ Sensorimotor Capabilities (3 ECTS)

This course studies human-computer interaction (HCI) with a focus on increasing the communication bandwidth between users and computers. As computers’ input/output (I/O) bandwidth seems to be unlimited, the HCI bottleneck resides on the human side : users have strong limitations regarding what they can perceive and what they can do in a given amount of time. For this reason, the computer interface must be designed to optimize the human I/O bandwidth. This course studies human sensorimotor capabilities with the goal to inform the HCI bandwidth optimization process.


  • Current knowledge on human sensorimotor capabilities.
  • Modeling the interaction between users and computers.
  • Measuring users to computers bandwidth with Fitts’ law.


Students work in groups of 2 during the whole semester on an HCI study. They choose a bandwidth evaluation problem with the interaction of their choice (moderated by the professors), they propose an experimental protocol to measure the bandwidth, run the experiment, and they present their results to the class at the end of the semester.


  • Session 1: Project (100%)
  • Session 2: The project grade is kept (50%) + oral exam 30min (50%)

It is expected that students

  • acquire a fundamental knowledge on the human sensorimotor capabilities used in interacting with computers.
  • be able to identify and understand the bottlenecks in current HCIs.

Methods to bring the human in the loop (3 ECTS)

This course presents an overview of the different approaches available for researchers and practitioners to bring the human in the loop of a computing systems.  Among these approaches, to bring the human in a system design cycle, the following methods will be studied during the course: Qualitative (focus groups, ethnography, in situ observations, interviews, etc.) and quantitative (questionnaires, correlational observations, experiments, etc.) Corresponding analysis methods will be studied, which includes statistics. 


Qualitative methods, e.g.:

  • Focus groups, 
  • Ethnography, 
  • In situ observations, 
  • Interviews, among them contextual interviews. 

Quantitative methods, e.g.:

  • Questionnaires, such as NASA TLX, SUS and UMUX,
  • Correlational observations, 
  • Experiments, among them perception studies (e.g., just noticeable differences) to evaluate the performance of algorithms compared to humans capabilities,

Open science practices (consent forms, registration, etc.)


First, the students will, in groups of 2, prepare a course where they will present a method to perform study involving users.  Students need to explain the method + present its limits and how to analyse the resulting collected data. Background material might be provided by the teacher(s).  Second, the students, in groups of 2, will conduct a user study and perform the following steps: forming an hypothesis, collecting appropriate data to answer the hypothesis, and analyse the data to conclude on the hypothesis. Research question might be provided by the teacher(s). 


  • Session 1: Project (100%)
  • Session 2: The project grade is kept (50%) + oral exam 30min (50%)

The students should be able after following this course to choose and perform the right approach to answer a scientific hypothesis including humans. 


  • S. Card, T. P. Moran, and A. Newell. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1983.
  • David W. Martin, Doing Psychology Experiments, Cengage Learning Editors, ISBN: 0495115770, 9780495115779
  • Paul Cairns, Doing Better Statistics in Human-Computer Interaction, Cambridge University Press, Online ISBN: 9781108685139
  • Karen Holtzblatt, Jessamyn Burns Wendell, Shelley Wood, Rapid Contextual Design: A How-to Guide to Key Techniques for User-Centered Design, Morgan Kaufmann, ISBN: 9780123540515