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Software Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction: Students' Perception of a Project-based Approach in a Postgraduate Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Software Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Division

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Paper Authors


Luis Alberto Rojas Pino Universidad Andres Bello

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Luis Alberto Rojas Pino received his BS degree with first class honors from Universidad Diego Portales (Chile) and his M.S. degree from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), both in Computer Science. He obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in 2017. Dr. Rojas is currently a professor at the Universidad Andrés Bello (Chile). His research interests include human-computer interaction, data analysis, empirical software engineering, among others.

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Maria Elena Truyol Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile Orcid 16x16

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María Elena Truyol, Ph.D., is full professor and researcher of the Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB). She graduated as physics teacher (for middle and high school), physics (M.Sc.) and Ph.D. in Physics at Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. In 2013 she obtained a three-year postdoctoral position at the Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her focus is set on educational research, physics education, problem-solving, design of instructional material and teacher training. She teaches undergraduate courses related to environmental management, energy and fundamentals of industrial processes at the School of Engineering, UNAB. She currently is coordinating the Educational and Academic Innovation Unit at the School of Engineering (UNAB) that is engaged with the continuing teacher training in active learning methodologies at the three campuses of the School of Engineering (Santiago, Viña del Mar and Concepción, Chile). She authored several manuscripts in the science education area, joined several research projects, participated in international conferences with oral presentations and key note lectures and serves as referee for journals, funding institutions and associations.

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Juan Felipe Calderón Universidad Andres Bello

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Juan Felipe Calderón received the bachelor’s in computer science and MSc and PhD degrees in engineering sciences from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.
He is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the Universidad Andres Bello, Chile. His research and teaching is focused on software engineering, software design, distributed systems and computer-supported collaborative learning, and new strategies for computer science teaching.

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Highly structured activities in Software Engineering education are gradually abandoning current learning approaches. They are being increasingly replaced by self directed learning tasks accompanied with guidance from instructors. These activities are predominantly problem or project-based, where students are required to follow a self discovery path to achieve all the expected learning outcomes for the course. Both strategies have shown their effectiveness in involving students in their learning process. Specifically, project-based learning has proven to be particularly useful to engage students in addressing real problems and tasks [1]. In the case of Software Engineering education, project-based approaches are frequently incorporated into curricula, focused on traditional activities of a software development workflow: analysis, design and formal development. Also, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) techniques usually are included in this workflow, but as an extra and sometimes isolated activity [2]. This work explores the extent to which students are able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses between a traditional, teacher-centered project, and a learner-centered method. The aim of this work is to explore students’ perceptions of a project-based learning approach carried out at an advanced Software Engineering (SE) course at the Andres Bello University in Chile. The modified course is aimed at a Computer Science master students, who had to complete a list of relevant tasks to deliver a final project during a semester. The main objective of this innovation was to provide advanced knowledge of the SE (analysis, design and formal development of an interactive software, using HCI methods) through Project-Based Learning (PBL). Likewise, rubrics were defined to guide the learning objectives and, at the same time, to introduce fundamental aspects of HCI through evaluation criteria. These criteria refer to the requirement to conduct the software development process through a User-Centered Design (UCD) and formally to evaluate the usability / UX of the software developed. In this way, students had to develop an understanding of system users and to use HCI evaluation techniques for the creation of interactive software, from the start of the project and not simply as a separate topic. Formal course checkpoints were established to provide feedback to students, not only by the instructor but also by peer-assessment [3]. Data were collected through personal interviews. The interviews, based on a survey proposed by Stewart [4], were aimed to provide information about some relevant factors: prior work experience, self management, desire for learning, self control, time spent on core project activities, personal evaluation of learning outcomes and utility of the course content and methodology. The outcomes of the present study indicate that a project-based approach brings along undeniable advantages to students, including self-encouragement, an interdisciplinary perspective as well as know-how within the Project-Based Learning.

[1] M. Marques, S. F. Ochoa, M. C. Bastarrica and F. J. Gutierrez, "Enhancing the Student Learning Experience in Software Engineering Project Courses," in IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 63-73, Feb. 2018. [2] L. F. Capretz, “Bringing the human factor to software engineering,” IEEE software, vol. 31, no. 2, 2014, pp. 104–104. [3] L. Silvestre, S. F. Ochoa, and M. Marques, “Understanding the design of software development teams for academic scenarios,” in Proc. 34th Int. Conf. Chil. Comput. Sci. Soc. (SCCC), Santiago, Chile, 2015, pp. 1–6. [4] R. A. Stewart,“Investigating the link between self directed learning readiness and project-based learning outcomes: the case of international Masters students in an engineering management course," European Journal of Engineering Education, 32:4, 2007, pp. 453-465.

Rojas Pino, L. A., & Truyol, M. E., & Calderón, J. F. (2019, June), Software Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction: Students' Perception of a Project-based Approach in a Postgraduate Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33276

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