INFO 202-10
Information Retrieval System Design
Spring 2016 Greensheet

Nancy MacKay, MLIS
Berkeley, California


Greensheet Sections
Workload Expectations
iSchool Resources
Canvas Login and Tutorials
INFO 202 Resources

WebData Pro Tutorials

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 28th, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

This course covers the design, querying, and evaluation of information retrieval systems, from web hierarchies to controlled vocabularies.

Section Description

The principles of information organization and retrieval apply to almost every aspect of library and information science, as well to modern life. This section will take a practical approach to the subject, emphasizing the application of principles to students’ jobs and everyday lives, as well as to library and information science.

Lessons are delivered weekly through Canvas. The week cycle runs from Monday through Sunday, with the lesson for the upcoming week posted on the week-end. Coursework consists of readings, lectures/viewings, discussions, exercises and larger assignments. Active student participation is expected.

Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due on Sunday evenings by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time of the designated due date. Late submissions are generally not accepted, but considered at the discretion of the instructor and only by prior arrangement, and if accepted points will be deducted. Incomplete or incorrect upload of assigments will be considered a late and treated as above.

Students are assigned to a group at the beginning of the semester and will stay with the group throughout the class for support and collegiality. Group work is required for one assignment and optional for remaining assignments.  

There will be three live Collaborate meetings. Though meetings will be recorded and archived for access throughout the semester, live attendance is strongly encouraged. Meetings are  scheduled as follows:

  • Sunday, January 31, 5 p.m. PT, Course orientation
  • Sunday, March 27, 5 p.m. PT, Midterm review
  • Sunday, May 15, 5 p.m. PT, End-of-semester reflections (tentative)

Course Requirements

Complete INFO 203 Online Social Networking: Technology and Tools.
This is a mandatory 1 unit course that introduces students to the various e-learning tools used in the iSchool program.  For more information, see:

Technology Requirements

Students are expected to be proficient in the technology used in the class or to consult the iSchool's technical support team. The instructor does now offer technical support.

Assignments and Course Content


Assignment Learning Objectives  Portion of Grade
Exercises and Discussions
  • WebDataPro Orientation
  • Category Table
  • Classification Table
  • Writing a Rule
  • Others
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 15%
Larger Assignments
  • Controlled Vocabulary - Place Names
  • Controlled Vocabulary - Subject Analysis
    Database Design and Implementation
  • Website Redesign
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 75%

Midterm quiz

1, 2, 4, 7 10%
Total   100%

Course Calendar
A course calendar is available from the course site at the start of the semester.

Textbooks & Readings
Most reading assignments are from the two required textbooks listed below. The Tucker text is the primary textbook and is available as eBook ($6.95) and/or print ($31.89).  Students often find that having both formats is helpful. Additional readings assignments are available electronically.

Writing Requirement
If the instructor finds that a student's writing is unacceptable, the instructor will require the student to sign up for online writing tutoring. The student will ask the tutor to confirm with the instructor that he/she is attending sessions.

Course Topics  
These topics will be covered over the sixteen week semester, with some topics spanning multiple lessons.

Lesson  Topics
1 Introduction to the course & Overview of course concepts:
  • Science and practice
  • Information science and library science
  • Information retrieval
2 Introduction to information retrieval systems and system design issues:
  • Information retrieval systems for search & navigation
  • Introduction to metadata
  • Metadata systems
  • Hierarchical organization
3 Designing for search:
  • Databases
  • Data structures
  • Representation of information
  • Descriptive & subject access: overview
4 Design processes:
  • Eliciting information needs
  • Stages in the design process
  • Standards
  • Introduction to user research
  • Introduction to evaluation
5 User research:
  • Overview
  • Techniques
6 Searching:
  • Boolean logic
  • Proximity operators
  • Inverted files
  • Relationships between data structures & search options
7 Evaluation:
  • Evaluating individual searches
  • Precision & recall
  • Evaluating information retrieval systems
  • Other criteria for evaluation
8 Designing for navigation:
  • Web structures
  • Designing site maps
  • Hierarchies: when to be formally correct, when not to be
  • Methods for design: usability heuristics, human-computer interaction (HCI) factors
9 New developments & trends:
  • Historical perspectives & current trends in information retrieval

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 202 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Design two major kinds of information retrieval systems: metadata and web hierarchies.
  2. Understand the basic vocabulary and concepts of information retrieval (IR), and use them in class discussions and analyses of IR design projects; understand the concepts, principles, challenges, and work embodied in the assignments as representative of concepts, principles, challenges, and work described in course content.
  3. Identify standards and best practices for metadata, classification schema and hierarchies, and apply them in assignments.
  4. Identify an appropriate user group for an IR product, assess their information needs, conduct user research, and design an information retrieval system to meet those needs.
  5. Explain and apply basic design principles for usability, focused on the content and organization of information for retrieval.
  6. Use Boolean logic and other methods to query the databases created as class assignments with effective searches in both natural language and controlled vocabulary fields; navigate hierarchies efficiently.
  7. Evaluate a database information retrieval system, including its vocabularies, using standard measures such as recall and precision; evaluate interfaces for information retrieval using basic principles of interface design.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 202 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query, and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. G Demonstrate understanding of basic principles and standards involved in organizing information such as classification and controlled vocabulary systems, cataloging systems, metadata schemas or other systems for making information accessible to a particular clientele.


Required Textbooks:

  • Tucker, V.M. (Ed.). (2018). Information retrieval system design: Principles & practice (edition 5.1). AcademicPub/XanEdu. Available as eBook, softcover, or spiralbound; see ordering instructions.arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Weinberger, D. (2008). Everything is miscellaneous: the power of the new digital disorder. Holt Paperbacks. Available through Amazon: 0805088113. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.