Course Policies

Course Staff

Please reach out to our course email, or make a post on Ed for general questions about course content, assignments, or logistics. If you have a specific question for a member of course staff, feel free to email us at one of the emails provided below.

If emailing an instructor or TA directly, please put “HCD DeCal” or something similar in the email subject.

Name Role Contact
Aditya Mavalankar Instructor
Michid Byambajav Instructor
Sophia Matthews Instructor

Office Hours

We’ll offer many slots of office hours throughout the week for you to drop in and ask questions about anything you want!

More information about this will be provided as the semester nears.

About the Course

This class is an 11-week introduction to design theory and design practice, with a focus on human-centered design. The course will have an emphasis on digital design but concepts of physical design will also be covered. The course meets weekly for two hours for discussions, guest speakers, activities developing fundamental design skills, and project “crit” sessions. This class will provide its students with a fun and comprehensive look into all facets of design, experience working on design projects, and potential portfolio pieces.

No previous design experience is required. However, it is imperative that students have an open mind, a willingness to get out of their comfort zone, and a sense of humor.

The class meets in Jacobs 310 every Monday from 7pm to 9pm.

Evaluation and Grading

This class can only be taken P/NP. Students will be evaluated based on attendance, participation in discussions, activities, and crit sessions, as well as weekly homework assignments and completion of projects.

Weekly homework assignments will be key to understanding and putting into practice the design concepts taught in class. Two design projects must be completed by the end of the semester, with each project reflecting an increasing level of conceptual refinement.

  • 30% Homework Assignments

  • 30% Group Project (midterm)

  • 40% Individual Project (final)

Students must receive at least a 70% score to pass the DeCal.

You’re allowed a MAXIMUM OF ONE UNEXCUSED ABSENCE, no questions asked and no makeup assignment needed.

Much of the instruction relies on in-person activities and in-person group work, so students unable to make most/all class meetings will likely find it difficult to catch up!

Please fill out the excused attendance form in advance if you know you will be absent from class. If you exceed one unexcused absence/missed makeup assignment, you may fail the course. Please see below for more information.


Attendance is mandatory and will be recorded every week.

If you exceed 1 unexcused absence, you may not pass the course. For every class you miss, you will be assigned a makeup assignment for that week, to be completed by the next class.

To excuse an absence, please let the course facilitators know beforehand by filling out the excused absence form so that make-up work can be assigned.

The final showcase during class time on November 27th is MANDATORY. If you are unable to attend this session, you will not pass the course.


Throughout the semester, students will be expected to participate in class discussions, hands-on activities, workshops, and provide constructive criticism to each others’ design projects during design crits.

Everyone is expected to participate and contribute to the class each week, in some manner or form. We recommend getting a small notebook for taking notes as well as brainstorming and sketching throughout the semester and beyond.

Design Projects

Throughout the semester, you’ll go through two cycles of the design process in a group midterm project and individual final project, with increasing levels of conceptual refinement.

More information about this will be provided later in the semester.

Course Schedule

The course is spread over eleven weeks and will cover the human-centered design process, special topics concerning accessibility, and teach students to use prototyping tools like Figma.

Course content will accumulate into a project that solves an issue that matters to each student.

Week Date Concepts & Activities
1 September 11 Introduction to Human-Centered Design
2   Need-Finding + Research
3   Research Methodologies
4   Synthesis + Developing Insights
5   Special Topics + Buffer
6   Mid-Point Presentations
7   Ideation: Convergent + Divergent Thinking
8   Prototyping
9   Visual Design + Design Principles
10   Concept Validation
11   Final Showcase!

Instructor Supervision

The DeCal instructor of record, Professor Kosa Goucher-Lambert, will attend class intermittently to observe student progress. He will be invited to each of the project presentations and critique days to provide feedback for students and instructors and view the student projects. The facilitators will meet with him during his scheduled office hours to update him on course progress and establish techniques to more effectively engage the students.