San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Software Engineering Constituent Committee
25.213.1 - 25.213.11
Assessing Evolving Conceptual Knowledge in Software Engineering StudentsOver the past decade, the software engineering education community has focused significantlyon defining the body of concepts that both undergraduate and graduate students should (in somesense) “know” and be able to apply upon graduation. Efforts such as the SWEBOK, the SEEK,and the GSwE2009 together with associated certification processes from IEEE (CSDP andCSDA) and ISO (ISO/IEC 24773:2008) go to great lengths to define outcomes primarily ascoverage of the maturing body of knowledge (BOK) in software engineering. The evolution ofthe software engineering BOK and certifications over the past decade+ is a good thing as itspeaks to the maturing of the profession. However, defining program outcomes in terms ofcontent taxonomies flies in the face of emerging trends toward active and discovery-basedteaching and learning techniques (be it called “hands-on”, “project-centric”, or “self-paced”).One criticism of active or discovery-based learning approaches is that they are not the most cost-effective modality for transmitting information. To say it directly, an instructor can cover farmore content in a traditional lecture format that in a project (or other applied) format. In light ofrecent pervasive budget pressures in higher education, the ability to cover more with less formore customers (students) is a practical reality. A second criticism of the active approach is thatindividual assessment is difficult as project work is typically done in teams. Further, it isnecessary for an instructor to continuously monitor class progress as a whole toward learningoutcomes, which is complex in an environment where team progress evolves distinctly andnonlinearly. Teams do not learn at the same rate, go about applied work in the same way, andcome upon the hoped-for “aha” moment at the same time. The authors believe hybridpedagogical approaches such as scaffolding or the Software Enterprise are the best ways toaddress this issue.Is it more important to “collect more knowledge” or to gain an understanding of how thoseconcepts relate so that a sustainable learning structure is formed? Active learning proponentswould suggest it is more important to create a durable conceptual foundation by which newexperiences are assimilated to grow the personal knowledge base in an orderly, well-formedway. But how can one assess that this is happening? In our project-centric courses we haveadopted concept maps as a technique for evaluating the evolution of student understanding ofconceptual knowledge in software engineering. This paper will describe the concept mappingexercise students are asked to conduct at the beginning and end of every semester, the evaluationof concept maps through a unique expert ranking process, and the automation of concept mapevaluation to expert concept maps through graph comparison algorithms. Data collected fromalmost two years’ of concept map practice will be presented and analyzed from the perspectivewhether this is a viable technique in the present context of software engineering education.
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015