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CSEET 2010: Day 2 - Workshops

Notes from workshops held in the afternoon on Day 2 of CSEET...

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Arosha K Bandara
10 March 2010

Notes from workshops held in the afternoon on Day 2 of CSEET

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Enhancing design and documentation via filmmaking methods

Lynn Carter, CMU

The activities in this workshop were aimed at showing how video records of stakeholders can improve the quality of requirements and resulting design.  Essentially the workshop advocates teaching skills relating to documentary film making when trawling for requirements.

Using this approach, the software engineer would video all of their interactions with the clients, and then review these recordings (and their transcripts) when developing the requirements specification.  The detailed requirements documented in artefacts such as business use cases and product use cases would be linked to the relevant video evidence, this providing complete backwards traceability to the stakeholders statement of need.

Other benefits of using video to capture stakeholder statements of need include:

  • ability to record body language as well as verbal communication
  • makes it easier for software engineer to identify with the stakeholder and gain a better understanding of their need.
  • no loss of information due to transposition of stakeholder statement into other documents.

At CMU, this is taught as a 3 month student project course, with students first working in groups to develop a documentary video on some non-software topic (skills development component) followed by a project to apply these skills in gathering requirements for a software project.

Teaching of this technique is still very immature, as the technique itself is not widely used.  Also, there is no experience of using it in large students groups (> 25) so applying it to the OU context requires careful thought.   One idea would be to allow students to view, comment on and discuss a few of stakeholder videos.  However, there would be significant effort involved in producing the videos, particularly if they are to be linked to any of the TMA case studies that are changed with every presentation.

Arosha K Bandara
17:28 on 10 March 2010 (Edited 21:04 on 10 March 2010)

Puzzle-based Learning for Software Engineering Education

Raja Suriamurthy, CMU

Puzzles differ from problems in that, problems are specific to a particular domain and solving problems require domain knowledge.  Puzzles on the other hand can be solved using generic generic, domain-independent techniques.

This approach to learning is being advocated by a group of academics at University of Adelaide [removed][removed] and CMU (see and has been integrated into the undergraduate curriculum in a number of universities around the world.

Puzzles can help students in a number of ways:

  • students realised that collaborating can help solve some puzzles more effectively (more heads are better than one!)
  • students gain an appreciation of how people from different backgrounds / cultures approach puzzles (or problems) differently.
  • solving puzzles can be very rewarding to students and can help motivate them
  • helps students think more creatively (outside the box thinking)

Link to Software Engineering:

  • Puzzle solving skills help in dealing with complexity of a software engineering problem.  For example, puzzles that require incremental reasoning demonstrate the importance of incremental development.
  • Solving puzzles requires skills for recognising and resolving ambiguity - again a common challenge in software engineering.
  • Some puzzles can invoke discussions of ethics as well
  • Strategies for solving puzzles involve using heuristics which can also be helpful for solving software engineering problems.  For example, find a puzzle that is a variation, or simpler version of the puzzle that is being solved.
  • Puzzle solving skills can help make more accurate estimates (educated guessing) 

In addition to helping develop software engineering skills, puzzle solving skills are very useful for student's careers as many companies use puzzles as part of their recruitment process.

CMU/Adelaide experience of using puzzle based learning has been entirely face to face, and the course is designed to be highly interactive, classroom style, involving students submitting a number of assignments.  Again, there are many challenges for using this in the OU context, but would be interesting to see if others have given any thought to doing these types of activities in a distance learning setting.


Arosha K Bandara
21:15 on 10 March 2010 (Edited 22:13 on 10 March 2010)

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