Informatics 162W

Lectures: Mon-Wed 11-12:20               Professor: Gillian R. Hayes              Office Hours by appointment; Email: gillianrh @ ics, etc.

Discussion: Friday 12-12:50               TA: Steve Slota                                         Office Hours by appointment; Email: sslota @ uci, etc.


Informatics 162W is the second course in the ICS Information Systems sequence. Informatics 161 introduced you to the social dimensions of computing technology. Now, you will focus on the organizational aspects of information systems.

When you graduate, almost all of you will work in, with, for, or amonst organizations. Organizations are the primary developers and consumers of computer systems. More importantly, modern organizations depend critically on information and computer systems to function. Information systems and organizations are thoroughly intertwined. Most of the information system design you’re ever likely to be involved in will depend on organizational insights to be effective.

This class explores the relationships between organizations and information systems, and gives you tools for understanding and analyzing these relationships. We’ll spend some time dealing primarily with the structure and analysis of organizations, some time talking specifically about technologies that are especially relevant to organizational life, and some time introducing specific techniques for uncovering and thinking about technology in organizational settings.

162W can be taken to satisfy the UCI upper division writing requirement. Consequently, writing will be stressed in this class, and you will be taught a variety of genres of writing that are helpful as you go into organizations, study them, and so on.


REQUIRED BOOKS:  Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis (Paperback) by John Lofland (Author), David A. Snow (Author), Leon Anderson (Author), Lyn H. Lofland. Wadsworth, Belmont CA, 1995, 4th edition (3rd edition is also fine), ISBN 0534247806. This is also the required text for 163, so don’t sell it back at the end of the quarter.

I just heard you don’t have Writing A to Z from your lower division class…. in that case, don’t worry about it :) You don’t need it.


I also STRONGLY recommend you pick yourself up a copy of Strunk and Whyte The Elements of Style.

We will have a decent number of readings from Images of Organization by Gareth Morgan. I will be scanning them and posting them throughout the quarter, but if you are interested, its a handy book to have and can be bought online used for not too much.

Other course readings will be available online.

Discussion Attendance, Weekly Writing Assignments, and Critique (20%)

A major component of your grade will be completing regular writing assignments for much of the quarter. Each assignment will focus on a different style of writing, and you will use your organization observations as the basis for this writing. You will experience five “types” or “forms” or “genres” of writing in this class: Project Overview, Case Study, Progress Report, Research Paper, and Executive Summary. You will submit these assignments in to your team members before discussion, read each other’s writings, and offer critique. During discussion, you will discuss your critiques as well as the various genres you will be using. Your participation in critique is as important to your evaluation as your writing.

All of your writings will relate to a single observational project you will conduct iteratively throughout the term. One of the objectives of the course is to have you learn and apply the rudiments of “field work” skills that will make it possible to discover what other people experience as a user of an organizational information system. Thus, you will see some “recommended missions” throughout the schedule to keep you on track. You don’t have to follow these missions, but you may find things easier to accomplish if you do. Additionally, there are no hard and fast rules about how much data you need to collect. In my experience, for the level of writing you will do in this class, approximately 10 hours of observation should be sufficient.

Mid-Terms (15% Each)

The answers to the first mid-term have been posted. Please check here after the second mid-term for answers to it.

Participation and Discussion in Lectures (10%)

You will be expected to read the assigned reading before coming to class. I recommend trying to read it twice if you can. We will have both large and small group discussions in class, and so you should be prepared to comment on what you have been reading.

Writing Portfolio (40%)

The final component of your evaluation is a writing portfolio and term paper. At the end of the quarter, you will be expected to turn in the writings you completed throughout the quarter. Important: you will be turning in revised versions at this point, based on the feedback you have gathered This will constitute the bulk of your portfolio. You will then write a short paper that should include references, data and analysis from your organization observations, a summary of the information you gathered from the TA and other students during discussion, and reflection on both those comments and the writing forms*. We expect the total of your portfolio to be in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 10,000 words (though these are not strict limits) and to be typed in a reasonable font (Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, etc. 11 or 12pt).

You should familiarize yourself with the upper-division writing assessment rubric supplied by the writing center. It will serve as the foundation for the specific grading in this class.


Some of the readings are stored on UCI’s webfiles service. To gain access, you will first need an activated UCINet ID, and then to register for a Webfiles account.

Discussion weeks are in ITALICS; Exams and assignments to be turned in are in RED.

Date Topic Readings Recommended Missions
1/7 Introduction; course overview; project/observations overview; Metaphors for organizations
1/9 Overview of Organizations as Machines
1/11 Introduction to writing critique
1/14 Observing Organizations Part One: Choosing a field site, getting access
  • Lofland and Lofland Chapters 1, 2, 3
1/16 Observing Organizations Part Two: Collecting Data
  • Lofland and Lofland Chapters 4 & 5
  1. Find your field site and get access.
  2. Go there and take as many notes as you can on broad ideas.
  3. What systems are being used? Where are they located? Who has access? What seemed easy or hard?
1/18 Introduction to the 5 writing forms: project overview, case study, progress report, research paper, and executive summary; More detail on project overviews
1/21 No Class – Holiday
1/23 Machines: Process and Workflow; Data Management
1/25 Mid-Term Prep
1/28 Mid-Term 1
1/30 Organisms: Performance and Competition
  1. Choose 2 or 3 things from your previous observation session that were really interesting.
  2. Go back to your site and take field notes on JUST those issues/activities/phenomena
2/1 Critique of project overviews;More detail on Case Study
2/4 Observing Organizations Part Three: Analysis
  • Lofland & Lofland Chapters 6 & 7
2/6 Culture
2/8 Critique/work through case studies; Detail on Progress Report
2/11 No Class: work on your projects
  1. Based on the key issues you brought up in your case studies, determine what additional data you might need.
  2. Do you need to watch on a different day? at a different time? in a different part of the organization?
  3. Are there data points you just won’t be able to collect this quarter? Thats fine if there are… remember to include them in your writing.
2/13 Cultures: Organizational Form and Adoption
2/18 No class: Holiday
2/20 Conflict, Negotiation, and Power
2/22 Critique of Progress Reports; Detail on research paper
2/25 No Class: Work on your projects
  1. Review your writings so far.
  2. Go back and collect any data you need to fill out parts that you aren’t sure about.
  3. Be sure to look for data that conflict with your hypotheses/early ideas as much as you look for data that confirm them.
2/27 The “dark side”
2/29 Mid-Term Prep
3/4 Mid-Term 2; answers here
3/6 Guest Lecture: Melissa Mazmanian
3/8 Critique of research papers; Detail on Executive Summary
3/11 Discussion of final portfolio and reflection
3/13 Course Review
3/15 Critique of Executive Summaries and Portfolio Preparation
3/22 Writing Portfolios due (midnight. Pacific Time.)

Important Class Policies

If you are a student with a disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) and think that you might need special assistance or a special accommodation in this class or any other class, please check out the Disability Center online or visit them in person at

100 Disability Services Center, Building 313
Irvine, CA 92697-5130

Counseling Center:
If you find that personal problems, career indecision, study and time management difficulties, etc. are adversely impacting your successful progress at UCI, please check out the Counseling Center online or in person at 203 student services 1.

Email is BY FAR the most reliable way to get in touch with me. Likewise, I will use your university email address for all communications. Please check this account on a regular basis. When you communicate with me please put Inf242 in the SUBJECT LINE.

Technology Requirements:
You need access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows) for major amounts of time for this course. You need Internet access for this course. You must be able to save word processing files in a .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) or .pdf format for sharing and submitting files to the instructor. You are expected to have working knowledge and capability with your computer before entering this class.

Please submit all papers and materials (unless otherwise noted in the course schedule) through EEE or as noted in class. NO ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY EMAIL. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Class information and announcements will be communicated through EEE and through your UCI email address. To access EEE, you will need your UCI Net ID and password. If you do not know these, please contact OIT.

Plagiarism & Cheating:
Please read and heed the following information regarding academic dishonesty. The instructor cannot and will not tolerate academic dishonesty. For more information, refer to the UCI Student Handbook. The UCI campus policy on plagiarism can also be found on the Registrar’s website, under “Academic Honesty Policy”: If you choose to work with a partner on  your term paper, you will BOTH be held EQUALLY responsible for any plagiarism, regardless of who actually wrote what in the paper. Your reading reflections WILL BE CHECKED FOR PLAGIARISM. However, if you are leading discussion that week, you SHOULD use information posted by other students as part of their reflections in your discussion. You must in those cases note whose comment(s) you are using. The penalty for plagiarism is at a minimum to receive a 0 on the assignment and have the case reported to the Associate Dean’s office. Particularly flagrant cases may receive more severe punishment (notably failing the course).

What is cheating?
❑ Supplying or using work or answers that are not your own.
❑ Providing or accepting assistance with completing assignments or examinations.
❑ Faking data or results.
❑ Interfering in any way with someone else’s work.
❑ Stealing an examination or solution from the teacher.

What is plagiarism?
❑ Copying a paper from a source text without proper acknowledgment.
❑ Buying a paper from a research service or term paper mill.
❑ Turning in another student’s work with or without that student’s knowledge.
❑ Copying a paper from a source text without proper acknowledgment.
❑ Copying materials from a source text, supplying proper documentation, but leaving out quotation marks.
❑ Paraphrasing materials from a source text without appropriate documentation.
❑ Turning in a paper from a term paper website.

You should be on guard against plagiarism at all times.  At any time that you read anything in preparation for a paper or consciously recall anything that you have read or heard, you must be prepared to provide documentation.

Generally, when you use someone else’s ideas and/or words, you will either quote that person directly or you will paraphrase or summarize that person’s words. You must let the reader know which you are doing.
1. If you quote the source directly, you must
a. put quotation marks before and after that person’s words;
b. let the reader know the source by (1) putting a footnote or endnote number at the end of the quotation, or (2) putting at least the source’s name in parentheses after the quotation marks (such as when being taken from fieldwork).
2. If you paraphrase (a paraphrase is about the same length as the original, but in different words) or if you summarize (a summary is a severely shortened version of the original), you must
a. introduce the source in some manner at the beginning of the passage being paraphrased (or summarized) so that the reader can tell where your idea stops and the other person’s begins;
b. state the ideas taken from the source in your own words and your own arrangement. It is possible to plagiarize sentence patterns as well as exact words. A handy rule: if, in a paraphrase or summary, you use a stretch of more that three words in their exact order from a source, you should put those words into quotation marks;
c. provide an exact source citation for those ideas paraphrased or summarized. This may be done either by footnote/endnote number at the end of the passages or by parenthetical references to the work and page(s). This citation provides credit to the author being used and allows the reader access to the material for further study.
3. You must also provide a footnote for any chart, graph, figure, table, summary, or other data taken directly from another source or any information derived from such materials. You should also be sure to check copyright as to whether you are allowed to use this figure.

For example, the text here on plagiarism has been generously borrowed and slightly modified from the UTC Center for Advisement and Student Success. Likewise, the syllabus and course plan in use here are built on Paul Dourish and Gloria Mark’s previous offerings of this class.