CS 519, Winter 2015
Advanced Topics: Persona-Based Methods
for HCI and User-Centered Design

Instructor: Dr. Burnett
My Office: KEC 3051
E-Mail: mylastname @ eecs ...
Dr. Burnett's Office Hours are listed on my home page
Class location: TBA

Course Description

The course is about the use of Personas in HCI/User-Centered Design. Personas' use in HCI and User Experience jobs/fields is widespread in industry, so these skills should be useful from both HCI research and practice. Personas are also a cornerstone in some companies' software requirements and design processes, so these skills should also be useful to students heading for Software Engineering careers.

This is the first time I've offered a course on Personas. I don't know when, or even if, it will be offered again.

Course objectives

You can think of this as a "research methods" course, focusing on all aspects of Persona creating, use, and dissemination. The goals are that by the end of this course, you will be able to:
  1. Choose strategically whether and how to introduce personas into your organization or research.
  2. Describe the persona lifecycle.
  3. Apply each phase of the persona lifecycle to the creation of your own persona and to...
  4. ...using that persona in a software project.
  5. Integrate personas into at least one software engineering process.

Readings/assignments schedule

How to sign up

Register for 4 hours of CS 519. You can use it (with permission of your committee) for HCI credit or, for some students, for Software Engineering credit.


Contrary to what the catalog or scheduling system might say, the only prerequisite for this course is grad standing in Computer Science.

How the course will be conducted, method of instruction

You'll actually do a persona-based project, with a team. I'm encouraging teams to build upon a project that matters to them for other reasons (e.g., is part of their research). I'm anticipating little or no programming in this course. There will be some lectures by me, but probably fewer than half of the classes will be like this. Some of the class will be studio style, with teams critiquing each others' work, and based on team presentations in which the class jointly provides feedback on some aspect of a team's project. In short, it will be highly interactive. Due to the interactive style, class size is limited.


There will be a number of interim assignments, and a final presentation of your project. There will also be either a midterm or a final exam (TBA), but not both.

Note: This class does not have a TA, and so not all assignments can be graded. You will not know in advance which assignments will be graded and which will not.

I have high expectations, and expect performance worthy of graduate students in computer science. Thus, in this class, "A" does not mean "adequate" or "nothing wrong" -- it means "excellent". For an A, you should expect to dig deep and get the most you can out of the class.



  1. Required: ISBN/SKU 978-0-12-381418-0, Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt, The Essential Persona Lifecycle: Your Guide to Building and Using Personas, 2010, Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann/Elsevier. (Available at the OSU Bookstore and Amazon.)

We will also have selected readings from other sources, but you don't have to buy those.

Other Resources

Margaret M. Burnett
Date of last update: Feb. 19, 2015