INFO 202-01
INFO 202-02
INFO 202-03
INFO 202-04 
Information Retrieval System Design
Fall 2021 Syllabus

Alison Johnson
Office Hours: By appointment via Zoom or phone

Syllabus Sections
Workload Expectations
iSchool Resources
Canvas Login and Tutorials
INFO 202 Resources
WebData Pro Tutorials

LibGuide for 202

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning Thursday, August 19 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.

Class begins Thursday, August 19. Login to the course Canvas site on that date to begin the first module.

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, a 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:



Learning Objectives  / Competencies

Graded Points

 Exercises (in support of the Projects):

1. Identify Attributes

2. Design a Data Structure

3. Build a Database using WebDataPro

4. Rule Writing

5. Individual Reflection on Database Design

6. Design a Controlled Vocabulary

7. Independent Exploration of Topic of Choice




1, 2, 3, 4, 5,

6, 7, 8, 9 


E, F, G, H

1 point

2 points

5 points

3 points

3 points

2 points

5 points

 Group Projects

  1. Database Design (Part 1,2,3)
  2. Controlled Vocabulary for Target User Group
  3. Card Sorting
  4. Website Reorganization Report




  E, F, G, H

20 points
10 points
10 points
13 points


  1. Reflection 1
  2. Reflection 2
  3. Connect Session Responses




  E, F, G, H

2 points
2 points
12 points


  1. Introductions
  2. Organizing Things
  3. Evaluating Searches
  4. Using Websites



E, G, H

10 points



100 points

Assignment Notes:

  • Exercises are preparation for the project work.
  • Project 1 involves small group work to design and create a simple web-based database and search interface. Collaboration includes 3 to 5 synchronous virtual meetings in which participation is required.
  • Projects 2 and 3 are done in small groups, with the option to work solo if circumstances require.
  • Reflections serve as an opportunity to reflect on the new learning, personal growth, goals, and application of course material.
  • Discussions are framed around questions about course content to contemplate, respond to, and use to engage with class colleagues.

Late Assignments:

  • Assignments are due by 11:59 PM (PT) on the due date.
  • A late penalty of 5% will be deducted for assignments turned in more than 12 hours late.
  • The penalty may be avoided by requesting an extension from the instructor before the assignment is due.

Course Schedule:



Assignments / Due Dates

Week 1

Aug. 19-22

(Short Week)

Chapter 1:
Intro to Information Retrieval

Discussion A - Introductions

Due Sun. Aug. 22


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Aug. 22

Week 2

Aug. 23

Chapter 2:

Information Retrieval Systems

Discussion B – Organizing Things
Begins Mon. Aug. 23


Exercise 1 – Identify Attributes

Due Sun. Aug. 29


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Aug. 29

Week 3

Aug. 30

Reflection Week:

IR and You



Exercise 2 – Design a Data Structure

Due Sun. Sept. 5


Reflection 1

Due Sun. Sept. 5


Discussion B – Organizing Things
Due Sun. Sept. 5


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Sept. 5

Week 4

Sept. 6

Chapter 3:
Designing for Search

Group Project – Database Design
Group Work Begins


Exercise 3 – Build a Database Using WebDataPro

Due Sun. Sept. 12


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Sept. 12


Week 5

Sept. 13

Chapter 4:
Design Processes


Exercise 4 – Rule Writing

Due Sun. Sept. 19


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Sept. 19


Week 6

Sept. 20

Work Week:

No Connect Session and Readings




Week 7

Sept. 27

Chapter 5:
User Research

Discussion C – Evaluating Searches
Begins Mon. Sept. 27


Group Project – Database Design – Part 1 Alpha Prototype

Due Sun. Oct. 3


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Oct. 3


Week 8

Oct. 4

Work Week:

No Connect Session and Readings


Group Project – Database Design – Part 2 Beta Prototype

Due Sun. Oct. 10


Discussion C – Evaluating Searches
Due Sun. Oct. 10


Week 9

Oct. 11

Chapter 6:

Group Project – Database Design – Part 3 – Evaluation of Exchange Group’s Database

Due Sun. Oct. 17


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Oct. 17


Week 10

Oct. 18

Chapter 6:

Search (continued)


Exercise 5 – Individual Reflection on Database Design Project

Due Sun. Oct. 24


Week 11

Oct. 25

Work Week:

No Connect Session and Readings


Exercise 6 – Design a Controlled Vocabulary

Due Sun. Oct. 31



Week 12

Nov. 1

Chapter 7:

Discussion D – Using Websites
Begins Mon. Nov. 1


Group Project – Controlled Vocabulary for Target User Group

Due Sun. Nov. 7


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Nov. 7

Week 13

Nov. 8

Chapter 8:
Designing for Navigation


Discussion D – Using Websites
Due Sun. Nov. 14


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Nov. 14

Week 14

Nov. 15

Independent Exploration on Topic of Choice


Group Project – Card Sorting

Due Sun. Nov. 21


Connect Session Response
Due Sun. Nov. 21

Week 15

Nov. 22

Thanksgiving Week:

No Connect Session and Readings


Exercise 7 – Exploration of Topic of Choice

Due Sun. Nov. 28 (or turn in before Thanksgiving)


Week 16

Nov. 29

Reflection Week:
IR and You


*Final Day of Classes Dec. 6*

Group Project – Website Reorganization Report

Due Mon. Dec. 6


Reflection 2

Due Mon. Dec. 6


Connect Session Response
Due Mon. Dec. 6


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.). (2021). Information retrieval system design: Principles & practice (6.1 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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