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Integrating Communication Instruction Throughout Computer Science and Software Engineering Curricula

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Accreditation and Assessment in SE Programs

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count

19

Page Numbers

22.900.1 - 22.900.19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--18216

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/18216

Download Count

123

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Paper Authors

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Janet E. Burge Miami University

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Janet Burge is an Assistant Professor in the Miami University Computer Science and Software Engineering department. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2005) and performed her undergraduate work at Michigan Technological University (1984). Her research interests include design rationale, software engineering, AI in design, and knowledge elicitation. She is a co-author (with Jack Carroll, Ray McCall,and Ivan Mistrik) of the book “Rationale-Based Software Engineering”. Dr. Burge is a recipient of a NSF CAREER Award for her project “Rationale Capture for High-Assurance Systems”. She has been at Miami University since 2005. Prior to that point, she worked for more than 20 years in industry as a software engineer and research scientist.

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Paul V. Anderson Miami University, Ohio

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Paul Anderson is the Roger and Joyce L. Howe Director of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. His publications on technical communication have won awards from the National Council of Teachers of English and the Society for Technical Communication. His textbook, Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach, is in its seventh edition. His current research focuses on the ways college faculty in all disciplines can help their students develop high-level writing abilities in college.

Anderson is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, Association of Teachers of Technical Writing, and Miami University’s Institute of Environmental Sciences.

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Michael Carter North Carolina State University

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Michael Carter is Professor of English and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at NC State University. His research interests are in writing and rhetoric with a particular interest in the connection between writing and learning in the disciplines. He is the author of Where Writing Begins and many articles in a variety of journals. He has been PI or co-PI on NSF grants, including one that created LabWrite, an online instructional guide to writing better lab reports. He is currently working on projects related to teaching science in elementary schools.

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Gerald C. Gannod Miami University

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Gerald C. Gannod is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering and Director of the Mobile Learning Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He received the M.S. (1994) and Ph.D. (1998) degrees in Computer Science from Michigan State University. His research interests include service-oriented computing, software product lines, mobile learning, software reverse engineering, formal methods for software development, software architecture, and software for embedded systems. He is a recipient of a 2002 NSF CAREER Award.

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Mladen A. Vouk North Carolina State University

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Mladen A. Vouk received Ph.D. from the King's College , University of London , U.K. He is Department Head and Professor of Computer Science, and Associate Vice Provost for Information Technology at N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C., USA. Dr. Vouk has extensive experience in both commercial software production and academic computing. He is the author/co-author of over 250 publications. His research and development interests include software engineering, scientific computing, information technology (IT) assisted education, and high-performance computing and networks. Dr. Vouk has extensive professional visibility through organization of professional meetings, membership on professional journal editorial boards, and professional consulting. Dr. Vouk is a member of the IFIP Working Group 2.5 on Numerical Software, and a recipient of the IFIP Silver Core award. He is an IEEE Fellow, and a member of several IEEE societies, ASQ , ACM, ASEE, and Sigma Xi.

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Abstract

Integrating Communication Instruction Throughout Computer Science and Software Engineering Curricula One of the more intractable challenges facing engineering education has been providinggraduates with the communication abilities necessary for their success and that of theiremployers. While employers place effective communication at the top of the qualities they seekin new engineers, engineering programs typically relegate communication instruction to atechnical writing course taught by another department and, possibly, one or two courses in theirprograms. While technical writing courses provided by non-engineering faculty are helpful, theyare too general to prepare students adequately for the domain specific communicating theyrequired in their careers. Attention to communication in few engineering courses is alsobeneficial but doesn’t provide enough breadth or guided practice. Isolation of communicationinstruction in these ways reinforces the assumption by many students that writing, speaking, andother communication assignments are “busy work” rather than key aspects of their professionaleducation. Supported by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, we are developingand piloting model curricula that teach communication skills as an integral part of computerscience (CS) and software engineering (SE) courses. We are identifying learning outcomes anddeveloping course materials that provide students with the reading, writing, speaking, andteaming skills needed to communicate effectively in engineering and production environments.Our interdisciplinary team includes computer science, software engineering, and technicalcommunication specialists from the lead institutions, Miami University and North CarolinaState University, and from twelve other colleges and universities. The project will producemodel curricula developed and evaluated at Miami and NCSU, sample assignments developedat a variety of types of institutions, and teaching materials for instruction and evaluation ofstudents’ communication skills. While we are working with CS and SE programs, our approachcould be adapted in any engineering field. We started with a three-day workshop at which university participants and industryrepresentatives discussed the communication skills needed by CS/SE graduates and formedcourse-teams to develop outcomes and assignments for six core courses that span from theintroductory class through the capstone. At a second workshop, we reviewed pilot assignmentsand participated in training sessions on teaching and evaluating communication skills in CS/SEcourses. In the next two years, we will continue to develop teaching materials and pilotassignments, focusing on ways to integrate work done in individual courses into clearlyarticulated pathways in which students develop communication abilities progressively in thesame way they build technical expertise as they advance through their four years ofundergraduate study. We will also develop ways of making the resources we create available toengineering educators nationwide. Our paper will present results from the first year of the project, including the definition ofcommunication skills, general and domain specific, required by our graduates (as defined byindustry partners at our first workshop), definition of the audiences and genres involved inCS/SE specific communication, and examples of general strategies we developed for fusingcommunication and technical work in CS/SE courses.

Burge, J. E., & Anderson, P. V., & Carter, M., & Gannod, G. C., & Vouk, M. A. (2011, June), Integrating Communication Instruction Throughout Computer Science and Software Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18216

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