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Reporting on the Use of a Software Development Case Study in Computing Curricula

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Accreditation and Assessment in SE Programs

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1242.1 - 22.1242.10



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Paper Authors


Massood Towhidnejad Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Massood Towhidnejad is a tenured Full Professor of software engineering in the department of Electrical, Computer, Software and System Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His teaching interests include artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and software engineering with emphasis on software quality assurance and testing. He has been involved in research activities in the areas of software engineering, software quality assurance and testing, autonomous systems, and human factors.

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Thomas B. Hilburn Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Dr. Thomas B. Hilburn is a Professor Emeritus of Software Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has also worked on software engineering research and education projects with the FAA, General Electric, Harris Corp, the MITRE Corporation, DOD, FIPSE, the SEI, and the NSF. His current interests include software processes, object-oriented design, formal specification techniques, and curriculum development. He is an IEEE Certified Software Developer, SEI-Certified PSP Developer, and currently chairs the Curriculum Committee of the IEEE-CS Educational Activities Board and Planning Committee of the IEEE-CS Professional Activities Board.

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Salamah Salamah Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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The Use of a Software Development Case Study in Computing CurriculaThe use of case studies is an effective method for introducing real-world professional practicesinto the classroom. Case studies have become a proven and pervasive method of teaching aboutprofessional practice in such fields as business, law, and medicine. The term “case study” is usedin a variety of ways. In its most naive form, it simply refers to a realistic example used toillustrate a concept or technique.Although the use of case studies in education has shown success in the above mentioneddisciplines, it is yet to be adopted in any significant way in the computing education. One of thereasons for the lack of use of the case-study approach is the shortage of sufficient material forthis purpose. While many computing text books include the use of case studies to explain ideas,these cases seem to serve a specific purpose (e.g., discussing programming constructs, softwareplanning or requirements analysis, design, risk analysis, or construction issues) by using simpleexamples that are quasi-realistic. These case studies often lack the following: • Realistic artifacts (often space does not allow providing a complete requirements or design document) • Completeness (covers only a portion of the life-cycle, and not an end-to-end), with a focus on design and implementation • Ability to decouple from the text and apply in ways not intended by the author • Techniques for integration into course activities or into the curriculum as a whole • A scenario format that would motivate students to get engaged in problem identification and solution. • Guidance to the instructor on how to use the case study to teach a course topic or conceptIn previous work, the authors introduced the idea of a comprehensive case study (theDigitalHome case study) that can be used throughout a computing curriculum. In that work wemotivated the use of case studies in teaching and shared some of the artifacts developed at thetime. We also discussed how the DigitalHome case study addresses the aforementionedshortcomings with a goal of providing a complete set of artifacts associated with softwaredevelopment as well as providing case modules that can be used by faculty in teaching differentsubjects in a computing curriculum.The main aim of the current paper is twofold; we provide an update on the new DigitalHomecase study material developed in the last two years as part of a National Science Foundationgrant. In addition, we highlight our experiences and those of our students in using the case studymaterial in different software engineering and computer science courses at our institution. Weprovide a mix of informal and formal assessment of the use of the case study material. We alsodiscuss the future goals, both short and long term, of the case study project and the anticipatedimprovements and new artifacts.

Towhidnejad, M., & Hilburn, T. B., & Salamah, S. (2011, June), Reporting on the Use of a Software Development Case Study in Computing Curricula Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18926

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