Visiting Speaker: Tony Clear on Competencies for Software Engineers and Collective Empathy

Published: 2 May 2024

Dr Tony Clear is an Associate Professor at the Auckland University of Technology

TITLECompetencies for Software Engineers: Collective Empathy –a new Disposition?
SPEAKER: Tony Clear
DATE: 2nd May 2024
TIME: 16:15-17:15

As the role of software, digital artefacts and systems becomes more pervasive in our lives, software is also increasingly required to serve more diverse contexts and user communities.  The criticality of sensitive and inclusive system designs then, comes to the fore as a key requirement. As a result, the often hard-nosed and competitive culture of software engineering needs to adapt in developing a broader concern for end users and their needs and in building that awareness from within teams that in themselves possess collective empathy.
Akgün and colleagues talking of software development project teams have argued “that collective empathy exists when all team members (e.g., programmers, system developers, testers) perceive or imagine their teammates’ affects, partially feel what others are feeling, and then demonstrate prosocial behaviors within their team during the project” [1].
The presentation will elaborate on the concept of collective empathy in the context of competencies required for successful software teams, explore how collective empathy may be conceived as a disposition and from recent analyses illustrate how the growing emphasis on empathy has become apparent in recent demands from employers.  The presentation will conclude by exploring the resulting question. So, if collective empathy is an underpinning element of professional competencies for software teams, how might we go about framing, developing and assessing such a disposition?
[1] Akgün, A.E., Keskin, H., Cebecioglu, A.Y. and Dogan, D. Antecedents and consequences of collective empathy in software development project teams. Information & Management, 52 (2). (2015), 247-259.
Tony Clear is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Auckland University of Technology, and an ACM Distinguished Member. He is also Co-Director of the Software Engineering Centre (SERC - ) with Prof. Jacqueline Whalley. He holds positions as an Associate Editor for ACM Transactions on Computing Education (TOCE), for the journal Computer Science Education, and ACM Inroads for which he is also a regular columnist and Editorial Board member. He is a former practitioner and is active in research within the global software engineering and computer science education communities. Current collaborations include: with Professor Daniela Damian of UVic Canada on Software Ecosystems and forms of influence within software teams; and with Assoc. Prof Alison Clear, of Eastern Institute of Technology in NZ, Dr Roger McDermott of Robert Gordon University, Scotland and Profs Cajander and Daniels at Uppsala University on the impacts of AI on the work of IT professionals and emerging competencies. Tony supervises and has examined doctoral students in Global Software Engineering, CS Education and interdisciplinary topics, and has chaired or participated in several doctoral consortia including ICER 2023 and 2024. In global software engineering and computing education research venues he has served on steering committees, chaired or served on programme committees for several conferences such as ITiCSE, ICER, ACE, FIE, ICGSE, SIESC, and reviewed for journals such as TSE, IST, JSS, JSEP, IEEE Software, IJEE, CLEIej.

First published: 2 May 2024