Fall 2018
CS 390 - Research and Project Design Principles in Computing

  Syllabus Page

  Lecture Timetable

Course Description:

CS 390 provides students with an introduction to the research and project design process as applied within the computing field. Students will learn about the tools of the trade and work through design principles starting with the articulation of a question, reviewing methods of exploration, gathering evidence, communicating results, and assessing/evaluating research or project outcomes.

This course is for students who are interested in getting involved in undergraduate research (see UROP) or who plan to do a senior design project by taking CS 490 - Design Exhibition in the future.

Students will work individually and in small groups, and participate in a research or design experience. See the Lecture Timetable for the list of topics that will be covered in the class.


CS 262 (Low level Programming) is required;
CS 310 (Data Structures) and CS 321 (Software Requirements & Design Modeling) are highly recommended


Prof. Pearl Y. Wang
Computer Science Department
Office:  Nguyen Engineering - ENGR 4440
Tel:       703-993-1527
E-mail:    pwang at cs.gmu.edu
Office Hours: Fri, 9:00 - 10:00 am or by appointment

Class Hours:

Fri 10:30 am - 1:10 pm;   Planetary 127


This course has no required textbooks, but several papers will be distributed for reading. See the Lecture Timetable and MyMason for additional information.

Course Requirements & Grading:

CS 390 is an activity-based course. This means that students must attend all classes and contribute to on-going discussions. There are no exams, but the course grade will be based on class participation and completion of a semester project or research paper:
(1) Participation: readings critiques, progress reports, and presentations: 40%

(2) Semester project: 60%

30% - project design/research plan documents, including regular progress reports and revisions

30% - final report containing documented software and/or project artifacts. For a research paper, final document should show evidence of an original contribution
The tentative list of required activities can be found on the Lecture Timetable webpage.

Course Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the semester, students will be able to

  • Articulate and refine a question while following ethical principles
  • Engage in the key elements of the scholarly process by:
      - selecting an appropriate discovery process for scholarly inquiry,
      - gathering evidence appropriate to the question, and
      - applying appropriate scholarly conventions during scholarly inquiry and when reporting

  • Assess the validity of key assumptions and evidence, and situate the scholarly inquiry within a broader context.
This course was developed with the support of OSCAR @ GMU and is identified as an Inquiry level course.

Honor Code:

All required coursework for this class must adhere to Mason's and the CS Department's Academic Integrity and Honor Code Policies described here:
https://cs.gmu.edu/resources/honor-code/ .


If you have a documented learning disability or other condition that may affect academic performance you should: (1) make sure this documentation is on file with the Office of Disability Services (SUB I, Suite 2500; 993-2474; http://ods.gmu.edu/) to determine the accommodations you need; and (2) talk with me to discuss your accommodation needs.

Important Dates:

Last day to add:  September 4, 2018
Last day to drop: September 10, 2018
Last day for self withdrawal: September 30, 2018
Last day for selective withdrawal: October 28, 2018

Fall break: October 8, 2018
Thanksgiving recess: November 21 - 25, 2018
Last day of classes: December 8, 2018

Final Examination Date: Fri, Dec 14, 2018: 10:30 - 1:15 pm

Created: 30 Aug 2018
P.Y. Wang