Student Projects

Rowanne Fleck
Room 140
Office hours: Tuesday 2.30-4, Wednesday 2-2.40.

In general I am interested in supervising projects related to HCI. This could be any programming project where the user is a key consideration in the system you are developing, or that attempts to advance theories of HCI.

For HCI MSc students - most of my projects would involve running studies to understand people's interaction with technology, often in their day to day lives, and might involve some kind of technology intervention. It would also involve some qualitative and/or quantitative analysis of results. However, some projects might have more of a programming or design element.

I have put a few suggestions  below, but I am also open to your own project ideas if they fit into the remit above. Projects marked * are those which could be suitable as UG final year projects. All projects are suitable for Masters' students.

Project Ideas

*Citizen Science for Wildlife

The Birmingham Institue for Forest Research (BIFoR) is investigating how climate change and environmental change will affect woodlands. They have a number of ideas for projects that could help them in their work.
  1. Monitoring the wildlife in the woodland, which is currently done using infrared image capture devices to capture photographs of the larger animals. They are hoping to use Citizen Scientists (interested members of the public) to help locate and describe animals in the images.
  2. Minihyzotron Monitoring - underground images of roots currently need human analysis which is subjective, time consuming, and dull. Can this be turned into another Citizen Science project? 

Both of the above projects could be design/experimental projects, or could explore some of the more technical aspects of delivering and running citizen science projects.

* Human-Building Interaction

How can digital monitoring technologies could help them improve building design and efficiency? This could help to understand building users and actual building running better to feedback into future building design. It could also be fed-back to building occupants to help them use the building more efficiently. A project in this area could involve investigating what data could be captured, and how. How could it be presented to building occupant to encourage more energy efficient building use? It could also involve considering ways to measure the success of any such interventions – improved building energy consumption, greater occupier satisfaction or other measures.

*Development of an Appendicitis App

Appendicitis can be difficult to diagnose with approximately 1 in 5 patients taken to theatre for an appendicectomy found to have a normal appendix. There are scoring systems available to assist in the diagnosis, however, use of these scores is very limited. The aim of this project is to develop an app, in conjunction with clinical researchers based at the University and QE, that uses this scoring system to assist in the diagnosis of appendicitis. If successful, this app could be used by clinicians treating patients in the acute setting and has the potential to improve patient care.

Personal Information Management - these projects would be co-supervised by Paul Englefield


In principle, deleting temporary and obsolete files should enhance user success when later retrieving documents or emails. Each deleted file reduces noise and thus improves the signal/noise ratio in an information management system such as a desktop folder or email client. For example, search would return fewer false positives and browsing would display shorter lists with more relevant items.
We know from the survey work that deleting is less used than other management techniques such as filing. However, we do not know why this is the case. Intuitively, factors might include: perceived risk; the cognitive cost of making a delete/keep decision; and the absence of a trigger event to prompt that decision.
This research could use either qualitative or quantitative methods. Results might lead to useful guidelines for the design of Personal Information Management software.


Information workers have various tactics available to help them manage document\ s and emails. They can: 1) manage or ignore; 2) file or pile; 3) use few categories (e.g. folders) or many; 4) manage now or later; 5) keep or delete. We know from the survey work that each of these tactics is used to some extent. However, we do not know the perceived cost of each tactic. For example is setting up a sophisticated filing system seen as more expensive than timely management. An interesting challenge here is the definition of cost. It may well have multiple components such as cognitive effort, ergonomics, perceived risk and even opportunity cost due to interruption of other activities. This research could use either qualitative or quantitative methods. Results might support the development of an cost/benefit model for Personal Information Management.

General Areas of Interest

I don't have any specific projects in mind for these areas, but would be keen to talk through your ideas if they were topics that interested you.

Work-life balance, wellbeing and productivity

Children’s collaboration around technology

This is a very broad area, but I am interested in many aspects of collaboration around various types of digital technology, in particular

Human-Robot Interaction

Particularly thinking about aspects of human-robot collaboration. How can people and robots work together to support each other and achieve the most successful completion of tasks?

Usable Security

Humans are often considered the ‘weak link’ in various computer security systems. How can understanding people’s limitations and incomplete understandings of computer security issues help us design more completely secure systems that properly take into account and support the humans in the system?