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A Software Engineering Tool For Managing Course Projects

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

SE Curriculum and Course Management

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.105.1 - 13.105.11



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Paper Authors


Joseph Clifton University of Wisconsin-Platteville

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Joseph M. Clifton is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. He has a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. His interests include software engineering, real-time embedded systems, and software engineering education.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Software Engineering Tool for Managing Course Projects


In the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, the students in our software engineering project course developed a web-based tool that simplifies tasks associated with project setup, monitoring, and evaluation. We started using the tool in several of our software engineering courses in the fall of 2007.

For faculty, the tool simplifies creation of groups, repositories, phases and activities. The tool can perform periodic checks of repositories using a set of heuristics to determine if acceptable progress is being made. The tool allows retrieval of files in a group’s repository without using the SourceSafe or Subversion client. The tool has reporting features to view individual contributions to the project and point deductions due to failure to make steady progress.

For students, the tool allows creation of time estimates and plans, broken down by phase and/or activity. It allows time logging, both manually and via punch-in/punch-out. It allows a student to retrieve files in a group’s repository, which is useful when the student does not have access to the version control client. It also has some limited reporting capabilities, such as viewing group summary statistics broken down by individual.


The University of Wisconsin – Platteville has had a BS-SE degree since fall 1999. All of our software engineering courses have a group project component and many require individual projects. For most of the courses, students are required to log time spent on the project, broken down by phase and/or activity. For many courses, students are required to provide time estimates and plans. Furthermore, most of the courses require that students use version control.

The department has tried different mechanisms and tools for time logging. Early on, students were allowed to submit their time logs in text documents. We then experimented with freeware tools and later used spreadsheets with various formats. One problem we noticed for all approaches was that some students would fill in time sheets days after actually spending the time and would guess the actual time spent. To attempt to force the students to provide more accurate time logs, the department developed a spreadsheet version of a time log that had several areas locked. The spreadsheet had a punch-in/punch-out feature that the students were required to use. Manual entries and changes were only allowed through a specific mechanism that marked these entries as such. A student could be required to justify an overuse of manual or modified entries. This worked well for most students but did have some problems for those that wanted to use it on their personal computers but did not have Excel.

For version control, the department uses both SourceSafe and Subversion. Faculty members and students disagree about which is preferable. One disadvantage of SourceSafe is that students cannot use the client from off-campus computers unless they have software that can map to

Clifton, J. (2008, June), A Software Engineering Tool For Managing Course Projects Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3578

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