CS247B Design for Behavior Change

Instructor: Christina Wodtke 

CS247 Series Description

The CS247 series of classes are project-based courses that build on the introduction to design in CS147 by focusing on advanced methods and tools for research, prototyping, and user interface design. CS247 classes use a studio-based format with intensive coaching and iteration to prepare students for tackling real world design problems. This class will be synchronous sections for active and peer learning, with virtual “office hours” held on Slack, Zoom and in discussion forums.

CS247B Description:

Over the last decade, tech companies have invested in shaping user behavior, sometimes for altruistic reasons like helping people change bad habits into good ones, and sometimes for financial reasons such as increasing engagement. In this project-based hands-on course, students explore the design of systems, information and interface for human use. We will model the flow of interactions, data and context, and craft a design that is useful, appropriate and robust. Students will design and prototype utility apps or games as a response to the challenges presented. We will also examine the ethical consequences of design decisions and explore current issues arising from unintended consequences.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

● Learn to see the Behavior Design in all software

● Become able to spot ethical issues in context of work

● Gain a layman’s understanding of the fundamentals of behavior change and can apply it

● Run Logistical Studies and gather actionable insights

● Model systems to determine where to make impactful interventions.

● Iterate prototypes in order to create impactful products


We want a diverse classroom. If you are a student who is not from the Computer Science department, Management Science & Engineering department, or Symbolic Systems program, there may be some flexibility in these prerequisites. Please speak to the instructor or TA.

CS 147 or equivalent experience in design thinking is the first prerequisite for this course. This class moves quickly and assumes that you already have learned the basics of the design process and have executed a significant design project previously.

This class focuses deeply on subsets of the design process. If you have never taken a design or HCI course, you could probably understand the content but you would not be well prepared to integrate it into the broader process.

Class Principles

The following adjusted syllabus statement is shared open access by Brandon Bayne (@brandonbayne), associate professor of Religious Studies at UNC — Chapel Hill and is available for all to use and modify. The teaching team of 247B commits to this.

1. Nobody signed up for this.

Not for the sickness, not for the social distancing, not for the sudden end of our collective lives together on campus.

Not for an online class, not for teaching remotely, not for learning from home, not for mastering new technologies, not for varied access to learning materials

2. The humane option is the best option.

We are going to prioritize supporting each other as humans
We are going to prioritize simple solutions that make sense for the most
We are going to prioritize sharing resources and communicating clearly

3. We cannot just do the same thing online.

Some assignments are no longer possible
Some expectations are no longer reasonable
Some objectives are no longer valuable

4. We will foster intellectual nourishment, social connection, and personal accommodation

Accessible asynchronous content for diverse access, time zones, and contexts
Optional synchronous discussion to learn together and combat isolation

5. We will remain flexible and adjust to the situation

Nobody knows where this is going and what we’ll need to adapt
Everybody needs support and understanding in this unprecedented moment

Class Schedule & Assignments

Meeting Times

Tuesday: 2:30–3:50 PST

Thursday: 2:30–3:50 PST

If needed, we will create a second session set up at a time convenient for half the class.

This class will be a combination of reading, ethics discussions, design exercises and creation of useful behavior interventions. We will have one project over the 10-week quarter. A more precise schedule will be on Canvas. However, due to the unprecedented nature of the switch to online and unpredictable current events, we reserve the right to change things as the class needs.

This class will have one big team project that runs the entire quarter.

Week 1: Introduce Class, Core Concepts, behavior monitoring practice.

Week 2: Targeting the right people: Recruiting & Screener

Week 3: Understand the context: Interviewing & Baseline

Week 4: Previous Work: Secondary Research & Comparative Research

Week 5: Finding Patterns and Insights: Synthesis & Ideation

Week 6: Low effort data collection: Bricolage Prototyping

Week 7 Iteration & Elaboration: Fixing what’s there and adding what isn’t

Week 8 Is it Usable? Usability testing and RITE

Week 9 Polish: Visual Design and Onboarding

Week 10 Final presentations


In light of this weird year, we will be focusing far less on numerical grading, and more on giving constructive feedback on assignments throughout the class. We’ll also be going out on a limb and trying a new redo-policy to bring the course closer to mastery-based learning.

Our goal is that everyone has a chance to get the grade they are comfortable with, with one exception: A+ will be reserved for only the highest quality of work. Be sure to ask the teaching team what it takes to get the grade you want.

All course work (including projects) will be graded as follows:

A: 93–100

A-: 90–92 High level of mastery demonstrated

B+: 87–89

B: 83–86 Moderate level of mastery demonstrated

B-: 80–82

C+: 77–79

C: 73–76 Low level of mastery demonstrated

C-: 70–72

D+: 67–69

D: 63–66 Incomplete

D-: 60–62

F: Below 60- Missing

An A+ will be given when there is extraordinary work. An A+ for the class can also get achieved if all the work is A and extra credit is done.

Regardless of the quality of work or feedback you receive, the score given should be treated as a heuristic for whether you (or your group, for group work) should consider redoing and resubmitting the work. An A-C indicates a passing mark (e.g. sufficient mastery is demonstrated), though you are still welcome to make improvements to the work and resubmit for more practice.

Wait, we can resubmit work after getting a grade?

Yup! However, you can do this at most once for each assignment up to one week from when the assignment’s grades are released. And, you can only do this for at most 5 assignments throughout the quarter. If you get a C-F on an assignment, it means that we think something might have been missing in your understanding or a requirement was absent from your submission. While it’s not the end of the world to get a C and move on, having too many assignments below 60 or too many assignments not done at all (resulting in a zero) is pretty much the only way to fail the class. Resubmitting an assignment that received a low score is a great way to learn and demonstrate your growth.

Course Grade Weighting

Final grades in the class will be calculated as follows:

● 50% Project and Project Documentation

● 20% Ethics Assignments (Your lowest 2 Ethics Assignment grades will be dropped.)

● 20% Sketchnotes and Response essays (Your lowest 2 Sketchnote grades will be dropped.)

● 10% Team reviews

Passing grades will be given to those above a 70% cumulatively.


Because this is a studio class (despite being online) we do ask for attendance in section. Studio is like learning to play an instrument or be good at a sport: You must practice. Section is where we discuss, practice and learn new skills by doing.

You can miss three sessions before attendance affects your grade.

If you need to miss a class, please let your team and the teaching team know. We will be lenient in this strange year (as we were last year.) If you have to tell us after you’ve missed the class, that’s alright also though we do prefer being warned ahead of time. Don’t be surprised if Christina urges you to go to the doctor, one of her students in the past discovered cancer in time to stop it because she made him get a doctor’s note. Missing class for another class’s work or job interviews is generally frowned upon but ask anyhow.

Late Deliverable Policy

Assignments not submitted by the posted deadline will receive a score of 0. However, since assignments can be resubmitted up to 1 week after their grades are released (see above section), late work submitted during that window will be graded as if it were the resubmitted work assuming you haven’t already used up the 5 resubmits allotted for the quarter.

In other words, turn things in on time for feedback. Once feedback is released, turn it in again (or turn it in late the first time) within a week for full credit. Doing nothing is the worst strategy.



Supplies needed for this class (if you don’t have them/can’t get them, reach out and we’ll find a way.)

● Sketchbook

● Pens: black and highlighters. Extra colors if you wish.

● Post-its


We do not demand certain software because we prefer to spend time learning design, not tools. You are welcome to use the software you know best. As well you do not have to code if you prefer to focus on design.

· Mural will be used in the class for some design activities. We have a license, and links will be passed out. You can try it for free.

· Slack is where we ask questions and discuss. We will have a workspace.

· Canvas is where you find assignments and submit them.

· You will want to draw or use a simple tool like Balsalmiq for sketch low-fi prototypes

· You will want a way to make interactive prototypes such as Invision, figma, POP or Sketch

· You will want a customizable lifetracker app

Books, Media and Other Logistics


All reading, videos and audio materials I give you will be accompanied by a request for a sketchnote, unless otherwise stated. More on sketchnoting on Canvas

Sketchnotes are graded as thus: If we can tell you read the material, you will get a 90. Incompletes, non-sketchnote notes, and indecipherable sketches will get less. Sketchnotes that are excellent will get better than a 90, especially if the graphic design challenge is met.

Deliverable / Documentation Checklist

As deliverables will be how we understand your design process, you will have several including slides, essays and photos. We have a certain threshold of quality you need to meet. Be sure to go over the Deliverables Checklist in Canvas.

Affordability of Course Material

Stanford University and its instructors are committed to ensuring that all courses are financially accessible to all students. If you are an undergraduate who needs assistance with the cost of course textbooks, supplies, materials and/or fees, you are welcome to approach me directly. If would prefer not to approach me directly, please note that you can ask the Diversity & First-Gen Office for assistance by completing their questionnaire on course textbooks & supplies: http://tinyurl.com/jpqbarn or by contacting Joseph

Brown, the Associate Director of the Diversity and First-Gen Office (Old Union Room 207). Dr. Brown is available to connect you with resources and support while ensuring your privacy.

Honor Code

The Honor Code articulates University expectations of students and faculty in establishing and maintaining the highest standards in academic work. Examples of conduct that have been regarded as being in violation of the Honor Code (and are most relevant for this course) include copying from another’s examination paper or allowing another to copy from one’s own paper; unpermitted collaboration; plagiarism; revising and resubmitting a quiz or exam for regrading, without the instructor’s knowledge and consent; representing as one’s own work the work of another; and giving or receiving aid on an academic assignment under circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that such aid was not permitted.

See https://communitystandards.stanford.edu/ for more information on the Honor Code.