INFO 202-02
Information Retrieval System Design
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Dr. Geoffrey Z. Liu
Telephone: (408) 924-2467
Office Location: Clark Hall 418L, SJSU Campus
Office Hours: Zoom Chat, email, & by appointment

Syllabus Sections
Workload Expectations
Learning Objectives
iSchool Resources
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore
INFO 202 Resources
LibGuide for 202
WebData Pro Tutorials

Canvas Information: 

Courses will be available beginning August 21st, 2019, at 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 in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

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

Note: the iSchool requires that students earn a B in this course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt, you will be placed on administrative probation, and 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.

Course Requirements

Complete INFO 203 Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success. This is a mandatory 1 unit course that introduces students to the various e-learning tools used in the iSchool program, including Collaborate.  For more information, see: INFO 203 Online Learning.

Technology Requirements

INFO 202 students will use WebData Pro, web-based database management and information retrieval system, to create databases, manage database structures and records, and create a web-based interface for searching the database. WebData Pro is compatible with current browsers for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS. Before starting INFO 202, students must:


Assignment Learning Objectives Portion of
Course Grade
Individual Exercises (in support of the Projects)
  1. Creating Structured Metadata
    • WebDataPro Orientation
    • Attributes & Simple Data Structures
    • Creating Standards for Database Content (Writing a Rule)
  2. Vocabulary Design Basics
  3. Conducting User Research (Card Sorting)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


Group Projects (Database & Hierarchy Design)

  • Designing & Evaluating Databases (of a non-text/biblio collection)
  • Designing Vocabulary for Target User Group
  • Evaluating & Designing Websites (site map / structure)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Technology Report (term paper)
5, 6, 7 20%
Online Discussion 1, 2, 5, 6, 7 (25% in total)
  • Self-introduction (class)
  • Relevance & Evaluating Searches (group)
  • IR impacts on social/personal life (class)
Total   100%

Submission & Additional Info

Submit assignments by 11:30 pm Pacific Time on the due date. Late submission will not be accepted unless appropriate documentation of legitimate cause for the delay is provided, either as part of a prior arrangement or timely afterward. Request for deadline extension will be handled the same way as of RP (incomplete), in accordance with the university/school policy. It is students' responsibility to submit and maintain the electronic version of their work until the final grade is issued.

At the start of the semester, students will be randomly assigned into groups (of optimal size of five) to complete the group projects of database/hierarchy design and peer evaluation as well as within-group online discussion on relevance.

The term paper is a short report discussing a current or emerging "Information Retrieval" technology, technique, or service/system of choice. Students are to identify a topic of his/her interest, and the proposed topic needs to be approved by the instructor.


Online discussion on assigned topics (except for self-intro) will be graded based on meeting a minimum expectation of postings as tracked by the Canvas system, with necessary adjustment for quality of contribution. Self-intro and all individual exercises will be graded as CR/NC, but group projects and term paper will be letter graded.

The SJSU iSchool's Standard Grading Scale will be used to translate letter grades to percentage scores. Per-assignment scores are added up proportionately to yield the total of earned points, which in turn is converted back into a letter grade using the same scale.

Writing Requirement

All written works should be word processed and free of grammatical and spelling errors. The APA guidelines of citation, references, and formatting are to be followed consistently. Resources for improving academic writing are available at the iSchool Student Writing Resources Center.

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 Calendar (tentative)

Lesson Topics Assignment/Tasks



Zoom Meeting (mandatory)
Sat. 9:00-11: 30 am PST

Introduction & Overview of course concepts

Posting self-intro

Labor Day (campus closed) .
IR systems and system design issues Ex-1A-I DUE; Self-intro ends
Designing for search

Ex-1A-II, III & Ex-1B DUE 

File Structure of IR systems  Ex-1C & GP-1(A1) DUE
Design processes GP-1 (A2) DUE; Leading posts for class discussion DUE
Full-text indexing and relevance ranking

GP-1 (B1) DUE

User research

GP-1 (B2) Ex-2 DUE


Ex-3 DUE; Term paper topic approved

Relevance & evaluation  .
Designing for navigation  Leading posts for group discussion DUE
Collaborative information seeking

GP-2 (Parts A & B) DUE

Veteran's Day (campus closed) .
New developments & trends Group Discussion-Relevance END
(Research & writing)

GP-3 DUE; Class Discussion-Reflection END

.  Term Paper DUE

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.
  8. Learn database management software in order to implement database design, information structures, and create search interface.
  9. Assess user information needs, curate a small collection, and develop a controlled vocabulary for search access to that collection for the target user group.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 202 supports the following core competencies:

  1. E Design, query, and evaluate information retrieval systems.
  2. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  3. 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.
  4. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


Required Textbooks:

  • Tucker, V.M. (Ed.). (2019). Information retrieval system design: Principles & practice (6th ed.). AcademicPub/XanEdu. ordering instructionsarrow 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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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