The mission

To educate human-centered designers with a new specialty that integrates systemic,behavioral,visual and technical skills. 

Year 1: IxD Today    Lots of screens, systems, story, individual work, etc.

Year 2: IxD Tomorrow    Exploring disciplines, materials, collaboration

Year 3: Finding your voice    Thesis, self-discipline, sustainability, topic studio

Faculty hiring philosophy
Hire the best (expert and teacher and soul) in each core area or class in the curriculum, anchor with those having 10+ years of experience

  • Probably no one faculty fits student profile, the students will graduate different. The next generation is intentionally different than the previous.

  • Students will integrate (sometimes they miss that point)

Managing the classroom
CCA offers two Learning management systems, you can access these from the Google Toolbar when you log into your CCA email account

Google Classroom

Student Attendance
Show up on time (three >10 late is an absence)

  • Three absence is an automatic “F” (teacher discretion)

  • Six-hour studios count as two classes.

  • Best to keep accurate records

  • Walk of shame - students sign in across room - take picture at 10 mins.

Don’t let unexcused absences go without penalty Late back from break is counted as a “late,” three lates equals an absence.

Your syllabus must contain the  mandatory information around accommodations of learning and other differences. All syllabi need to have this language. This is required by law. Refer to the Faculty Handbook for more information.

How classes are held
Six hours / week (BFA)
Three hours/week (MDES)
Supervised work
Open to what comes up
Not all scheduled
Devices/distractions away


Homework Guidelines

Students should expect 9 hours a week per class.
Six hours during class with some of that time dedicated to supervised studio
Three outside class for homework

More Tips
We asked our faculty to provide some tips they found helpful in the classroom, feel free to contribute your advice as well:

Helpful Templates
Let us know if you have any resources you have found helpful that you would like to share.


Class Planner
Helps to plan the course day by day, hour by hour and calculate grade points

Information for Projects - a way to collect information to submit for publication on

The best format is Video but a slide deck case study will do, we recommend creating a Google folder and having the students submit the link via Google Classroom.  To access the folder (not intuitive - but works) right-click open the link in a new tab and you should have access to the student's folder. 

 Choose a representative from your team to upload the following:

- Keynote or Google Slide presentation or PDF of your presentation
- Video of your project
- Photos of your project (including process) 


Teaching Interaction Design & the Studio Environment

Sophomore year

  • Students should turn in individual work

  • Collaboration basics (team forming, norming, supporting)

  • Discovery and brainstorming can be together

Junior year

  • Focus on working/delivering together (storming, performing)

  • Multi-disciplinary, exploring, team projects

Senior year

  • Solo work, point of view, self-expression ad hoc collaboration


Project work is the heart of how we teach
Projects often form the spine of a course
Often 2-4 projects, 1 small, 1 med, 1 large (capstone)

Usually build on each other, or might be separate learning objectives studio activities often introduce and train skills just in time for the skills/craft needs of the projects

Projects usually start with a project brief

Project Briefs

A good design brief….

  • Can have different starting points: need, material, behavior

  • Has creative constraints

  • Has clear success criteria

  • Has thousands of good solutions, not one

  • Is inspirational

  • Is timeless or topical

  • Has embedded learning objectives

  • Makes teaching easier by structuring the exploration around the learning objectives.

  • Can be made for any learning objective (from ethics to visual design)

Design brief: Starting points

  • User need Starts with a human need, e.g. help some manage diabetes.

  • Material Starts with technology or material, e.g. you have a biochip in the skin, what do you do with it?

  • Behavior Starts with a behavior, e.g. make some grab and rotate this object, or help someone become more active, make strangers interact.

  • Give limited time

  • Give limits on the materials to be used

  • Specify the end audience/user

Constraints might have a twist e.g. change halfway through (bigger canvas, different canvas, different user, different behavior)

  • A describable different behavior? (did strangers interact?)

  • Were you able to transform the material? (Specify what a positive transformation is.)

  • Could you satisfy the need? (does the solution match the opportunity?)


User Research
Last year’s Soph/Jr revealed two systemic opportunities for program:

    • Need for more systemic Ix thinking (e.g. 2nd, 3rd order “what happens when someone does X, what do they see?”

    • Need for more user research/feedback (too often faculty become first feedback)

  • Doing better user feedback helps solve the first.

    • A good first review question: “what did users say, what did you fix?”  (e.g. faculty should not be doing expert reviews)

  • Help students see EVERYONE as a user & value their feedback: teacher, students, targeted users, random users

  • Share more online tools for rapid feedback [Example?]

  • Make it clear: any and all feedback helps (but students must have a way to ask and capture)

  • Make it clear: SW is never finished. Always iterate

  • Help students focus conversations with users

    • Identify their primary design questions before session

  • Faculty visits, faculty from Spring visit Fall and vice-versa

  • Projects that span multiple classes

    • E.g. use a visual design project in Design research to practice later-stage refinement

  • Students asking 5 questions in project final to be answered in the next class

    • Final review points could be carried into the following semester into a next class.

Critique and feedback

  • Faculty:  Always begin a review with the question: "What did people say?"

  • Reviews are a key culture touchpoint

    • Keep positive

    • Compliments first

    • Ask what the student was trying to do

    • Offer actionable feedback to bring what the student is trying to do and lesson goal together

    • When applicable, try to avoid doing “expert reviews”

      • instead do “process reviews” this enables a student to work more independently

    • "What did people say?

Giving feedback to students - ( 5-10 mins during studio time):

  1. Meet quickly with everyone 1:1 with one of two messages:

    1. you’re doing good

    2. I’m concerned

  2. And then give everyone feedback: Here are two things I’d like to see more of

Guest reviewers and lecturers

  • We encourage industry colleagues in the classroom for reviews and lectures.

  • Please let us know if a guest is coming as we have small gifts we can provide.

  • Let us know if this is someone we should consider as a potential teacher.

Teaching Assistants

  • Grad MFA & MDES students

  • IxD is a popular TA choice

  • We have coverage for almost all soph/junior classes

  • Priority goes to senior teacher, lower-level class

  • They are paid by graduate programs

  • TA’s cannot substitute for teacher alone

  • Review guidelines online at


Grading and Evaluation

Sophomore: Self-assessment and show

Junior: big show, tied in with portfolio/internship

Senior: bigger show tied in with thesis and how their point of view world

Note: We need faculty reviewers for Sophomore and Junior show. This is how we give student individual attention, provide holistic student feedback, see outliers and revise our curriculum.

  • Set clear expectations

  • Catch them early

  • Mid-term grading is required for poor performers

  • Mid-term grading recommended for all

  • Don’t miss middle - (so easy to focus on top/bottom)

  • Grade appropriately

  • Strict due dates help everyone

  • C or better passes in major

  • Please no “gentleman's C’s”

  • It is the Design Department’s policy that no extensions be given to students to make up work after the grading deadline

  • Consider extra credit make up

Please note: Faculty cannot offer extensions for completion of student work after the term ends without case review by the Provost’s office.

A word about privacy
Student educational records are considered confidential and may not be released without the written consent of the student per the  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA.

  • As a faculty or staff member you have a responsibility to protect educational records in your possession.

  • Never share grades with students via email.

  • Always email/reply/cc to a student’s CCA email address.

  • Never use student names in the subject line of an email.

  • Do NOT talk with a student’s parents (or other friends, relatives, etc.) about a student’s grades, academic progress, or whereabouts.

To learn more about FERPA, take the FERPA faculty tutorial:


Detailed information about CCA’s grading policies:


Getting feedback from students  

Sample survey:

  1. If a colleague asks what you thought of this course, what will you tell him or her?

  2. What would you like more of?

  3. What would you like less of?

  4. What suggestions do you have to improve the classroom experience/teaching?

  5. Is there anything else that you want to share?


The Compassionate Classroom
Trust is essential to a constructive learning environment

    • You want students to trust you, to prevent problems

    • Fear/discomfort invokes “fight or flight”

    • Treat all students equally, but step outside if needed

    • Be transparent about learning objectives

    • You don’t need to be your student's’ “friend”

  • Most problem situations can be avoided w/ preparation

    • See example syllabi for language to include

    • To avoid uncomfortable pronoun/name issues, have students introduce themselves when calling roll

  • Notify Jessica, Aynne or Kristian of students that:

    • Are not turning in work, after you check in with them

    • Students not showing up (that’s student affairs)

    • Troublesome in class

  • For ANY disability, pharmacology, harassment issue:  


    • Jeannine Szamreta,

    • Her office handles student cases, including confidential info, and will connect the dots so you don’t have to.

    • Students should know that you can promise privacy,
      but you can’t promise confidentiality. Some information must be reported up (not out) on a need-to-know basis.

  • If students are...

    • Uncontrollably disruptive

    • A threat to others

    • Threaten self-harm

  • Then…

    • First, make sure you (and others) are safe

    • Notify security immediately - (415) 621-2395

  • Call 911 if necessary, or have security call 911