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MOTIVATING AND ORIENTING
NOVICE STUDENTS TO VALUE
INTRODUCTORY SOFTWARE
ENGINEERING
Daniel Port, Chris Rachal, Jia Liu
University of Hawaii x 2, USA; Nanjing University, China
Our Novice Students Were Poorly
Oriented and Motivated to Study SWE
“I’ve been successful
without all this.”
“The instructor was enthusiastic about content but
sometimes the content wasn’t interesting to me and
other students”
“All this process stuff just
gets in the way of
programming ”
“Why do we need to do so
much documentation?”
Palpable Consequences…
Seriously?!?
I learned a lot in this course
The instructor stimulated me to
think about the subject matter
US
After course survey:
# type / total responses
•
•
•
•
poor class performance
Negative perception of course from students
negative perception from employers of student preparation for jobs
students not pursuing or poor success with software engineering careers
But We Know Software Engineering is
Important For Our Students!
… I thought I would spend most of my
time programing, but it’s all about
requirements, documentation, and project
management just like you said. I wish I
paid more attention in ITM353.”
We Tried …


We knew there was a problem, but were not sure
exactly what is was.
We tried the usual prescriptions:
 Real-client
projects
 Adopting agile methods
 New textbooks purporting modern, innovative learning
approaches
 Infusing software engineering concepts into prerequisite courses (Introductory Programming)
 Active Learning / engagement / in-class activities
Some Improvement!
•
•
•
New textbook
Real-projects
Infusion
The instructor stimulated me to
think about the subject matter
4.6
4.4
I learned a lot in this course
4.55
Infusion into
ITM352
4.5
Infusion into
ITM352
4.45
4.4
4.2
4.35
4
4.3
campus
college
your dept
your class
3.8
campus
4.25
college
4.2
3.6
your dept
4.15
3.4
spring 2005
spring 2006
Fall 2007
spring 2008
your class
4.1
spring 2005
spring 2006
Fall 2007
spring 2008
But …

Also quality of work
did not improve
substantially
With real-projects students did tend to appreciate SWE
but only after “being burned” or “after the fact”
Not always a positive experience  frustration,
discouragement, resentment
 Poor application of material 1st time around, retention


A survey after the course was over found students had:
little understanding of the relevance and utility of the course
material
 low motivation and interest in the course
 lack of confidence and enthusiasm in pursuing software
engineering jobs after graduation

Lack of Motivation and Orientation


Primary problem is that novice students tend to lack
motivation and are poorly prepared (oriented) to
appreciate the study and practice of software engineering.
From the start of the course need to foster:



Intrinsic motivation (self-fulfillment, enjoyment, satisfaction)
Extrinsic motivation (perceptions of current and future success)
BIG

CLUE:
The more experienced the student, the more motivated and
oriented they tended to be from from from the start
DUH?!? But Why?
Educational Psychologists Say …



Students should be given an opportunity to explore for
themselves the how the course material can help achieve future
goals. This is the future time perspective (FTP)
Students should acquire an understanding of the instrumental
value of present behavior (IVPB) for future goals.
Barbra Grosses book “Tools for Teaching” suggests:
 Give frequent, early, positive feedback that supports
students' beliefs that they can do well. (FPF)
 Ensure opportunities for students' success by assigning tasks
that are neither too easy nor too difficult. (EZ)
 Help students find personal meaning and value in the
material. (PMV)
 Create an atmosphere that is open and positive. (OPA)
 Help students feel that they are valued members of a
learning community. (LC)
Four Engagements



Developed four “early awareness engagements”
specifically to implement suggestions
Done before topics that have been difficult to
motivate (e.g. SDLC, project roles)
Practical, quickly and easily implemented within any
kind of course, high-impact, low-effort
Engagement 1: Interview a Professional
ASSIGNMENT 1
Your task is to interview an “MIS professional” about SAD (Systems Analysis
and Design) topics. The main question to answer is:
“What should a successful MIS person know about SAD?”
1) You will work with up to two partners, as assigned. Your team will choose
an MIS professional to interview, or you may request to interview an MIS
professional you know personally.
You will contact the MIS professional assigned to your team as soon as
possible and set up an interview time. You may interview by phone, but in
person interview is recommended if possible.
http://itm-vm.shidler.hawaii.edu/itm353/asst1.html
Sign-up Example
Example Results
Topic
MIS Pro
Priority
Your
Interest
MIS Pro
Priority
Your
Interest
MIS Pro
Priority
Chris,Lauren
1
Your
Interest
1
Henry, Matt
1
1
Chris, Erick
1
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
11. Systems Design
1
1
1
1
2
1
5.
Fact-Finding Techniques for Requirements Discovery
2
2
1
1
1
2
1.
Information System Building Blocks
2
2
1
2
1
2
6.
Modeling System Requirements with Use Cases
2
2
1
2
1
16. User Interface Design
2
3
2
1
9.
2
2
1
19. Systems Operations and Support
1
1
8.
2
12. Application Architecture and Modeling
MIS Pro
Priority
Your
Interest
MIS Pro
Priority
Your MIS Pro Your
Interest Priority Interest
2
2
Adam, Chad
2
2
Yexi, Mike
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
MIS Pro
std Yours
1
1.20
0.45 1.20
3
2
1.43
0.79 1.40
1
1
2
1.43
0.79 1.40
3
2
3
2
1
1.43
0.49 1.80
3
3
2
3
2
2
1.57
0.79 2.20
2
3
3
1
1
2
3
1.57
0.79 2.40
2
2
3
2
1
1
1
2
1.71
0.76 2.00
2
1
2
3
3
2
3
1
1
1.71
0.76 2.00
1
1
2
3
1
3
1
1
3
2
1.71
0.79 2.00
2
1
2
1
1
3
3
2
2
3
2
1.71
0.82 2.00
1
1
2
1
2
3
3
3
1
2
2
3
1.71
0.76 2.20
15. Input Design and Prototyping
1
3
2
1
2
2
3
2
2
2
3
2
1.86
0.69 2.00
2.
2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
3
1
2
1.86
0.69 2.00
13. Database Design
1
1
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
3
2
1.86
0.90 2.00
10. Feasibility Analysis and the System Proposal
2
2
1
1
1
1
3
3
2
2
3
2
2.00
0.82 1.80
18. Systems Construction and Implementation
2
3
1
1
2
2
3
3
2
2
2
1
2.00
0.76 2.00
7.
2
2
1
2
1
1
3
2
2
2
3
3
2.00
0.82 2.00
17. Object-Oriented Design and Modeling Using the UML
2
3
2
2
2
2
3
3
2
3
1
1
2.00
0.76 2.20
14. Output Design and Prototyping
2
3
2
1
2
2
3
2
2
1
2
3
2.14
0.38 2.20
4.
Systems Analysis
3.
Project Management
Object-Oriented Analysis and Modeling Using the UML
Process Modeling
Information Systems Development
Data Modeling and Analysis
Perry, Vaughn
3
2
3
3
Other

Should we have some programming exercises throughout the course so you
can keep up your hard-won programming skills? In the past I have received
post-course feedback expressing frustration that there was no programming
for nearly the entire semester and some students "forgot" how to program.
Then at the end of the course, their team project required them to do some
programming and they had to re-learn PHP.


Yes:
No:
Other ideas: IT Application Security
Should the class have a real-client team project? In the past this has been
very useful for putting a lot of the abstract material and concepts into
actual practice.

Yes:
No:
Other ideas:
Other

Guest speakers on special topics - how many? what topics? who?


No:
Other ideas:
We have access to a number of industry popular tools such as MSProject
and Visio. They are complicated and take time to learn. Should we have
some training in their use or just make them available?


Yes:
Yes:
No:
Other ideas:
Student teaching. I have found that when you have to prepare a class, you
learn a lot and appreciate the material more. Should we have teams of
students prepare and present course topics (with my help of course)?

Yes:
No:
Other ideas:
ITM353 Fall 2008





Topics
1.
Information System Building Blocks
2.
Information Systems Development
■ = light/no focus
3.
Project Management
■ = heavy focus
4.
Systems Analysis
5.
Fact-Finding Techniques for Requirements Discovery
6.
Modeling System Requirements with Use Cases
7.
Data Modeling and Analysis
X guest speakers (ITS, HA, ???, ???)
8.
Process Modeling
Student team teaching (max 3
people)
9.
Object-Oriented Analysis and Modeling Using the UML
Class long team project (optional
real-client)
11. Systems Design
Small programming
assignments related
to topics
10. Feasibility Analysis and the System Proposal
12. Application Architecture and Modeling
13. Database Design
14. Output Design and Prototyping
15. Input Design and Prototyping
16. User Interface Design
17. Object-Oriented Design and Modeling Using the UML
18. Systems Construction and Implementation
19. Systems Operations and Support
Engagement 2: Subject Matter and
Real-World Job Skills
(back to the) Future Value


Exercise is linked to a discussion of project planning and roles and
planning for their semester-long projects.
In these projects the students had to adopt various project roles (project
leader, infrastructure analyst, business analyst, etc.) and this exercise





convinced them that such positions really did exist in the world, and
helped them understand the kinds of skills that they would need to undertake
such a position.
In 10 minutes the students would collectively gather dozens of job
descriptions, which were later viewed using this same PHP script.
As a group we would then review the collected job descriptions to
reinforce the kinds of duties, skills, and knowledge that employers
associating with each position.
Students are excited to see the list of potential jobs they might be
eligible for in the future pile onto the screen during class!
Engagement 3: Live Throughs

Any student that can
provide a feasible
and convincing
recommendation for
implementing the
system within the next
30 minutes (recall that
they were expected
to review the case
study long before
class) will immediately
be awarded an A+
and is excused from
any further work in
the course.
REAL
The Questions Not Asked …
• Have not given automatic A+ yet
• Leads to very productive discussions and
insights into SWE
Productive Discussions!
Engagement 4: Making A Sandwich
and the SDLC
#9 the instructor stimulated me to think about the subject
matter
#7 I learned a lot in this course
4.6
4.4
4.9
Infusion into
ITM352
Early Awareness
Early Awareness
4.7
4.2
Infusion into
ITM352
4.5
4
campus
college
your dept
your class
4.3
3.8
4.1
campus
college
your dept
your class
3.9
3.6
3.4
Oh, by the way, I now enjoy teaching
this class.
3.7
spring
2005
3.5
spring
2006
Fall 2007
spring
2008
Fall 2008
spring
2009
Thank you for listening and I’m happy to share the
details of the four engagements. % Class Days
#14 The Instructor Sets High Standards
Attended
spring 2005spring 2006 Fall 2007 spring 2008 Fall 2008 spring 2009
4.9
4.8
4.7
So?
campus
Early Awareness
college
your dept
your class
4.6
WoW!
Infusion into
ITM352
4.5
100%
95%
90%
85%
80%
75%
70%
65%
spring spring Fall spring Fall spring
2005 2006 2007 2008 2008 2009
4.4
4.3
4.2
4.1
spring
2005
spring
2006
Fall 2007
spring
2008
Fall 2008
spring
2009

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