Teaching and Assessment Methods for Practical and Global Software Engineering Education


Gary D. Thompson

Oral Defence Date: 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 - 15:30


HH 301


3:30 PM


Professors Petkovic & Levine


As software engineering teams become more distributed and global in space and in time (e.g. team members working in multiple time zones and in different geographies) it becomes increasingly difficult for development organizations to locate entry level engineers with skills applicable to working in such distributed teams. This poses significant challenges for educators to effectively educate students in this area. In addition, while there has been much talk about outsourcing and new ways of working in software (SW) development such as in geographically distributed teams (often called global SW teams) there has not been much formal analysis and comparisons done based on some objective measurements and assessment. Contributions of this report attempt to address the above two issues: a) how to effectively teach practical and global SW engineering (SE), and b) comparisons of teamwork dynamics between traditional and global SE groups. These two contributions are critically linked: in order to do obtain realistic assessments of SE practices, students need to be immersed and to experience real-life SW environment, which is provided by innovative and specifically designed teaching methods in our class. To that end, in this paper we present our six-year experience as well as recommendations for teaching practical distributed (referred to as global) and collaborative software (SW) Engineering (SE) with our partners at Fulda University, Germany and Florida Atlantic University in Florida. Specifically, this paper presents the design and organization of this collaborative course and its unique teaching methodology; assessment tools and methods for tracking student progress; and analysis and comparison of student team practices. We present specific recommendations we believe are critical for successful teaching of practical SE applicable to global, outsourcing and collaborative SW development, in the areas of: curriculum and teaching methods; administration, management and evaluation of student group projects; synchronization of teaching with final student project; grading which promotes effective desired learning objectives; and finally the assessment measures we found useful for ensuring that learning objectives are met as well as results of comparison of local vs. global SE teamwork dynamics.

Gary D. Thompson

SW Engineering education, assessment of teamwork, global SW engineering