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Students vs. Professionals in Assisted Requirements Tracing: How Could We Train Our Students?

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Software Engineering Constituent Committee Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1132.1 - 24.1132.20



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Paper Authors


Tanmay Bhowmik Mississippi State University

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Tanmay Bhowmik is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Mississippi State university. He obtained his M.S. degree in Computer Science from the same department in 2010. He completed his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from National Institute of Technology, India, in 2007. His research interest is looking at software engineering from a social information foraging (SIF) perspective. Currently he is exploring stakeholders' social interaction and software productivity from an SIF perspective.

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Nan Niu Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

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Nan Niu is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Mississippi State University. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2009 from the University of Toronto, where he specialized in requirements engineering for software product lines. His current research interests include information seeking in software engineering, requirements engineering, program comprehension, and software engineering education. He is a member of ASEE and a senior member of IEEE.

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Donna Reese Mississippi State University

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Donna S. Reese received her BS from Louisiana Tech University and her MS and PhD degrees from Texas A&M University, all in computer science. She is Professor and Head of Computer Science & Engineering at Mississippi State University where she has been on the faculty since 1988. Donna is a senior member of ACM and IEEE. She is past chair of the Women in Engineering Division of ASEE. Her primary research interests include recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities within computing and engineering.

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Students vs. Professionals in Assisted Requirements Tracing: How Could We Train Our Students?AbstractAssisted requirements tracing (ART) skills are essential for new college graduates joining thesoftware industry as their initial assignments involve substantial tracing-related activities.Although studying human analysts in ART is an emerging research trend, how students mightbehave differently from software professionals is yet to be investigated. In this paper, wecompare the performances, processes, and strategies between students and software professionalsin carrying out ART tasks for an unfamiliar system. We observe that both students andprofessionals performing ART activities follow a generic four-phase problem solving process:define the problem, develop a plan, implement the plan, and evaluate the solution. We find thatstudents show significant deficiency in the overall problem solving process, whereasprofessionals follow unique and effective tracing techniques in defining the problem, and indeveloping and implementing the plan. We identify the improvement areas and propose a set oflearning activities for software engineering students to enhance their tracing skills. Weimplement two learning activities in a Software Requirements Engineering course and report ourexperience. Our study contributes to the improvement of training students in performing ARTand other information-intensive tasks in software engineering.

Bhowmik, T., & Niu, N., & Reese, D. (2014, June), Students vs. Professionals in Assisted Requirements Tracing: How Could We Train Our Students? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23065

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