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Improving Quality In Software Engineering Through Emphasis On Communication

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.229.1 - 2.229.9



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Mirel

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Atul Prakash

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Leslie A. Olsen

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Elliot Soloway

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

Session 3232

Improving Quality in Software Engineering Through Emphasis on Communication

Barbara Mirel DePaul University/ University of Michigan

Leslie A. Olsen, Atul Prakash, Elliot Soloway University of Michigan


We will describe the integration of a communication component into a senior-level design course in software engineering, the structure of the component, and methods for testing its effects. The goal is to improve the usability of the software product, to overcome some problems due to time constraints of a school term, and to bring the course more in step with industry approaches by the following:

• educating students on techniques for defining a vision of the product (what is it doing and for whom),

• placing greater emphasis on the client’s and user’s perspective, the interface design, and interface’s effects upon the rest of the code, and

• conducting iterative usability testing, starting early in the project cycle.

From inception to completion of the software, these important issues are addressed by teaching students to write well-reviewed specifications and user documentation, by beginning this early in the term, and by using these documents to inform the design.

Problem With Software Design Courses

In the computer industry today, it is rare to find a firm or in-house Information Technology department in which the dominant emphasis is not on user requirements, user needs, user involvement, and interactive software. Ideally, students should be prepared for this emphasis on user-centered design and development through their academic courses, especially through their culminating project course on software design and development. Without experience in these activities, students will not be in step with industry approaches.

Unfortunately, students rarely leave a software design course skilled in user-centered design. User-centeredness is not an orientation that comes naturally or even easily to most computer


Mirel, B., & Prakash, A., & Olsen, L. A., & Soloway, E. (1997, June), Improving Quality In Software Engineering Through Emphasis On Communication Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6609

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