June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Software Engineering Constituent Committee
13.105.1 - 13.105.11
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
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