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Software Engineering Learning in HFOSS: A Multi-Institutional Study

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Software Engineering Constituent Committee Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1379.1 - 26.1379.12



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Paper Authors


Heidi J. C. Ellis Western New England University

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Heidi Ellis is Chair and Professor in the Computer Science and Information Technology department at Western New England University. Dr. Ellis has a long-time interest in software engineering education and has been interested in student participation in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) since 2006.

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Gregory W Hislop Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Gregory Hislop is a Professor and Senior Associate Dean in the College of Computing and Informatics at Drexel University. His scholarly interests span computing education research, information technology for teaching and learning, and software engineering. Prior to coming to Drexel, Dr. Hislop spent 18 years working in government and industry, where his efforts included software development and support, technology planning and evaluation, and development and delivery of technical education.

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Sarah Monisha Pulimood The College of New Jersey

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S. Monisha Pulimood is on the faculty of the Department of Computer Science at the College of New Jersey. She has been successfully incorporating immersive learning experiences and multidisciplinary collaborative projects into her courses for several years; has published on undergraduate research, collaboration, project management, and diversity; is PI of “Collaborating Across Boundaries to Engage Undergraduates in Computational Thinking” (NSF-DUE Award #1141170) and co-PI of “Scholarships for Success in Computational Science” (NSF-DUE Award #1356235, PI Thomas Hagedorn).

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Becka Morgan Western Oregon University

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Becka Morgan takes great joy in teaching students computing languages, a subject she has been passionate about since she learned to program in 2006 as a non-traditional student. She is driven to create an inclusive environment. Consequently Dr. Morgan was drawn to teaching FOSS and HFOSS development based on work that is being done that suggests underrepresented groups are attracted to HFOSS participation. She teaches a one-term HFOSS course to both senior and graduate level students. The goal of the course is to engage all students in participation that ranges from improving documentation to submitting patches. Learning to teach students how to participate in HFOSS is an ongoing process. As part of the continuing efforts to pursue that knowledge Becka is a graduate of the 2013 POSSE workshop.

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Ben Coleman Moravian College

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Ben Coleman is a member of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Moravian College, a small, liberal arts college in eastern Pennsylvania. His research interests are in software engineering, particularly in areas related to pedagogy and bringing real-world, hands-on experience to undergraduates.

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Software Engineering Learning in HFOSS: A Multi-Institutional Study AbstractStudent involvement in Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) projects hasbeen tracked since 2006 [1]. Initial studies indicate that benefits from involvement in HFOSSprojects include greater student motivation to pursue computing careers and an increase insoftware engineering knowledge [2,3]. In fact, involvement in HFOSS is increasingly beingutilized as a way to educate software engineering students and there are a growing number offaculty members who are involving students in HFOSS projects [4].This paper reports on the results of a multi-institution study of student perceptions of learningwithin an HFOSS project. The study involves four different institutions with courses offeredbetween fall 2013 and fall 2014. Students were involved in projects including GNOMEGNOME Mouse Trap, a project to provide alternative input for physically impaired users, andOpenMRS, an electronic medical record system used extensively in developing countries.A pre- and post-course survey was used to obtain student opinion of motivation and learning,with particular focus on software engineering learning and professional skills. The survey asksabout background knowledge and uses a 5-point Likert scale to obtain feedback on softwareengineering and professional skills and knowledge gained. The paper will investigate aspectssuch as gender and programming experience and their impact on perceived student learning.Results of the multi-institution study will also be compared to the results from the initial study.References[1] Ellis, H.J.C., Morelli, R.A., de Lanerolle, T.R., Damon, J., and Raye, J., “Can Humanitarian Open-Source Software Development Draw New Students to CS?” SIGCSE 2007, Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, Covington, KY, Mar. 2007.[2] Ellis, H.J.C., Hislop, G.W., Rodriguez, J.S., and Morelli, R.A., “Student Software Engineering Learning via Participation in Humanitarian FOSS Projects,” 119th Association for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, TX, June 2012.[3] Ellis, H.J.C., Jackson, S., Hislop, G., Burdge, D., and Postner, L., “Learning Within a Professional Environment: Shared Ownership of an HFOSS Project,” Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference on Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education 2014 Conference, Atlanta, GA, Oct. 2014.[4]

Ellis, H. J. C., & Hislop, G. W., & Pulimood, S. M., & Morgan, B., & Coleman, B. (2015, June), Software Engineering Learning in HFOSS: A Multi-Institutional Study Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24716

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