Course Information

The goal of this course is to teach you to create a UX/product design case study for your portfolio, which is the first step to getting a UX/product design job. Here are some logistics that will help us achieve this goal.

New Experimental Course

This is a brand-new experimental course with a very unique format, so please be patient as we work out the details. We will give you opportunities to provide feedback throughout the quarter as we go on this journey together!

How to reach the staff

  • Always check Piazza for all class announcements.
  • Don't use email; use Piazza to communicate with course staff
  • To chat with the staff in person, catch us after class or during our office hours. Otherwise please use Piazza!
  • If you can't get into Piazza, let us know in person ASAP.

Team Formation

All work in this course (except the final case study write-up) will be done and submitted in teams of 3. It is your responsibility to form teams in class and by asking on Piazza; the staff will help out, but we will not proactively assign anyone to your team without your permission. (Exception: If you have only 2 people on your team, then we may assign a third person to add to your team so that it has 3 people.)

If you cannot find a team by the Add Deadline, then unfortunately you cannot remain in the course.

Once your team of 3 has been formed, you must remain with your team throughout the quarter if you wish to remain in the course. You cannot switch teams mid-way. If your teammates drop and your team is down to 1 or 2 students, the staff may assign a additional teammates depending on circumstances.

If your team is down to fewer than 3 members (which sometimes happens since students drop the course), then we do not expect your project to be as sophisticated as those from teams of 3, but you must still fulfill all of the same rubric items since we are grading everyone based on the same rubric.

Waitlist and adding this course late

If you are on the waitlist and hope to join this course, then you must still complete all assignments and in-class activities on time as though you were enrolled. We do not grant due date extensions to waitlist students.

The same policy applies if you end up adding this course after the term starts; you're still responsible for coming to class and doing all in-class activities on time if you want to get credit for them. You cannot retroactively get credit for past absences.

If you are on the waitlist, please form a team with other waitlist students. Otherwise if you do not get admitted into the course by the Add Deadline, then your original team will be short some members and may have to merge with another team.


Bring a laptop to class for hands-on work. If you do not have a laptop, or yours breaks, you can borrow one from the UCSD Biomedical Library. Restrict your laptop use to class-relevant activities. Be respectful of your neighbors, so try to stay off video sites, social media, games, etc.; it distracts other students around you, not just yourself.

Attendance and In-Class Activities

This is a hands-on design course, so in-class activities are a major part of your grade. Please enroll only if you can commit to attend most or all class sessions on MWF 8am-8:50am.

(Why are we counting attendance so much?)

Bookmark this in-class activity Google Form, which you will use for all class sessions.

Each day's activity counts for 1 point in your grade. Google tracks timestamps, so only submissions made during class times will get credit. You will get 1 point if your response shows an honest effort (e.g., not a blank response, random words, or copied from someone else).

If you accidentally submit more than once, only your last response will be counted.

Your responses (but not your name or PID) may be shown to everyone in the class, so be thoughtful about what you write.

There are 27 class sessions (not counting the optional Week 0), but we will count this part out of 24 maximum points. This means you can miss up to 3 class sessions without penalty. No excuses needed.

However, no exceptions for other absences will be granted. Only you can decide for yourself whether the trade-off of points for missing class is worthwhile to you. Your time is the most valuable asset, so it's up to you to decide how to spend it.

(You can only get a maximum of 24 points here, so there's no extra credit. But if your attendance and in-class activity responses are exceptionally good, that may benefit you if you're on the borderline between two grades in the end.)

Attendance FAQs:

  • What if you forget to submit the Google form in class? We've put up a reminder during every class that Google form submission is the only way we can count attendance. The majority of students successfully submitted each day, so we know that Google forms were working during all class days.
  • What if you submit a few minutes after class is over? Don't worry, we have been lenient in extending the open time by enough time to let those who submitted slightly after class to be OK. The cases we don't count were way after class was over.
  • What if you entered your PID wrong? I've manually corrected a bunch of entries (please double-check your PIDs!), but if you still feel like you've entered in a wrong PID we didn't account for, talk to me in person, not on Piazza.
  • Can I make up for missing attendance? No, since our attendance policy was in place and unchanged since the start of the quarter. Also, everyone gets a few free days.
  • What about if I do an amazing job on my case study? Per the course policy: “At the end of the quarter, the entire staff meets at length to go over everyone's performance on the project and take into account any special circumstances that may warrant minor grade adjustments.” In theory, if you had a borderline grade due to attendance but did outstanding on the project and final case study, we reserve the right to adjust your grade up.

Weekly Assignments and No-Late Policy

In your weekly assignments, you will progressively develop a UX/product design case study. You should submit your assignments directly in Figma. You should see a template file for each one under your team folder, such as A1 for Assignment 1:

Put all your work directly in that file. Do not edit that file after the due date or else it will be marked as late. If you want to make more edits, make a copy of your file and work off of that. (If you accidentally make edits, use version history to restore a prior version.)

See this playlist for Figma tutorial videos.

Since Figma is an online tool that stores your work in the cloud, we strongly suggest that you frequently back up your files as you're working by selecting 'File -> Save As .fig'. Otherwise files may get corrupted or lost due to Figma's company server issues, which we cannot control. The staff isn't responsible for lost or late work due to server issues.

You can also select layers/objects/frames and use the Export pane on the lower right to export them as PDFs or images:

Grades and TA feedback can be found inside Figma comments on your assignment files (e.g., A1, A2, etc.):

No late assignments will be accepted. This is because you will present your work in Friday's studio every week, so you need to be prepared to participate. If there is a problem with the website that makes it so you cannot submit your assignment, you must message your TA on Piazza by 1:00am or else you will receive a grade of zero for it. You can do this only once.

Another reason for our no-late-assignments policy: Any of your team members can make a submission, so in case one or more members are out sick or are overwhelmed at the moment, the remaining members can be there to make up the work for a given week and submit the assignment. We give you enough advanced notice on due dates to plan around when some of you will be busy.

Grade composition and scale

Your course grade is out of 100 total points, comprising:

  • Attendance and in-class activities: 24 points, 1 for each day's activity (see details)

  • 5 assignments, done in teams (A1-A5): 50 points total

  • team citizenship: 3 points

    • During Friday in-class activities, you will privately assess your teammates' performance. Everyone earns the same grade for team assignments. But if teammates consistently report that someone was not properly achieving their goals, their citizenship grade may be adjusted.
  • individual case study write-up: 20 points

  • Code of conduct: 3 points. Everyone should get full credit here unless we inform you about disrespectful behavior on your part. For instance, if someone gives rude feedback to classmates, or reacts rudely to feedback given to them, that may affect their Code of Conduct grade. Critical feedback can be very helpful, but it should always be given respectfully.

[Minor change: there are now 5 team assignments instead of 6, and the individual case study is now 20 points instead of 10.]

At the end of the quarter, raw points are translated into letter grades using the standard letter grade scale. In rare cases when a student is near the border, we may consider raising their grade if there are exceptional circumstances (but see next section).

One change to the standard scale is that A+ grades will be given only to exceptionally-performing students, not simply to those who fulfilled all the points. A+ is only for exceptional cases.

For example (90/100) is 90%, so that would earn an A-. In this class, as with any, the grade you earn reflects your performance. There is no curve, so you are not competing with your classmates for a limited number of letter grades.

Grading Philosophy

We set up grading rubrics for assignments so that APS plays a significant role. That's because the purpose of this class is to help you create a top-notch case study for a portfolio that will impress employers. We do not give full credit for simply completing each assignment (just like how employers won't hire you for simply having a minimal case study). Note that if you complete everything but with bad APS, that will still earn you a passing grade (around a C or C+), which means you've passed the minimum requirements. However, to get an outstanding grade, you will need to show that your work is up to high standards.

Your TA will give you concrete suggestions for how to improve APS, both in their formal written feedback and if you ask them. Your APS scores on future assignments can improve if your TA sees that you're taking feedback into account by making your designs better, more consistent, and more polished.

Your time is your most valuable asset, and the decision of which classes to take is a deeply personal one. You will get the most out of this class if your goal is to improve your design portfolio in a significant way rather than to simply get a target grade for your transcript. After all, no employer will ever ask about your grade in this class (or in any other class!) if they see a great portfolio.

Do not ask the professor about grades

Please do not email, Piazza message, or ask the professor about your grades. Everyone follows the same set of grading rules.

At the end of the quarter, the entire staff meets at length to go over everyone's performance on the project and take into account any special circumstances that may warrant minor grade adjustments. Please do not email or message us at the end of the term to dispute your grades. In the end, we will make final grading decisions that are the most fair for all students in the class. We will not respond to such messages.

(The only exception is if there is a numerical error when computing your final grade from raw scores; in those cases, feel free to email and we will fix the numerical error.)

Code of Conduct

Our priority is to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment so that all students can fully focus on learning. Thus, everyone involved in the course (staff + students) should agree to show respect and courtesy to each other. To make this commonsense phrase more concrete, we have adapted the following Code of Conduct from the Recurse Center:

This course is dedicated to providing a harassment-free learning environment and community for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, or anything else. We do not tolerate harassment in any form.

All communication related to this course, in person and online, should be appropriate for a professional audience including people of many different backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate in this course in any context.

While this course as a whole is a professional community, it's also a community of friends. We ask you to be aware of the fact that conversations that may be appropriate within the context of a specific friendship or relationship with another member of the course may be inappropriate in a group conversation with classmates or staff members you don't know well.

Be kind to others. Do not insult or put down others in the course. Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate for this course.

Thank you for helping make this a welcoming, friendly community for all.

Academic Integrity

The staff works hard to help you learn course concepts and gain the skills necessary to be an ethical member of society. We expect your help in achieving these goals. If you cheat, you not only fail yourself (in that you won't have gained critical skills), but you fail UCSD (by lowering the expected quality of our degrees). Thus, we have a personal responsibility to both you and to your fellow UCSD students – and we take it seriously. Don't cheat. We will submit an allegation report on anyone we believe to be not upholding our academic integrity contract. This is processed through UCSD's Academic Integrity Office.

Aside from being bad for you, cheating is also highly inconsiderate to your classmates, since all the time and energy that the course staff spends dealing with the paperwork of cheating cases means less time to devote to the vast majority of students in class who are doing good honest work.

As a reminder, the following is an excerpt from the UCSD General Catalog section on Academic Dishonesty:

No student shall engage in any activity that involves attempting effort, for example:

  1. No student shall knowingly procure, provide, or accept any materials that contain questions or answers to any examination or assignment to be given at a subsequent time.
  2. No student shall complete, in part or in total, any examination or assignment (including clicker participation) for another person.
  3. No student shall knowingly allow any examination or assignment to be completed, in part or in total, for himself or herself by another person.
  4. No student shall plagiarize or copy the work of another person and submit it as his or her own work.
  5. No student shall employ unauthorized aids in undertaking course work.
  6. No student shall, without proper authorization, alter graded class assignments or examinations and then resubmit them for regrading.