CCSE Reading Group: Keeping software engineering students in touch with not only what they are to learn, but with why

Issued: Mon, 09 Nov 2020 11:25:00 GMT

TITLE: Keeping software engineering students in touch with not only what they are to learn, but with why
SPEAKER: Syed Waqar Nabi
DATE: 9th November 2020
TIME: 13:00-14:00
LOCATION: Quintin’s Zoom Room -


We are presenting this paper at the “32nd IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering Education & Training (CSEE&T 2020)”, in a session called “industry Orientation”, where two other papers will be *discussed*. They are following a “flipped conference” format, where people will (presumably) watch recorded video presentations before-hand, and the entire 45 minute live session will be dedicated to discussing the three papers “presented” there. The plan for CCSE session however is to play this 15 minute video live at the beginning (watch party), breakout into discussion groups, and then come back with questions/comments for the authors, which would be really helpful in anticipating and preparing for possible questions in the conference’s discussion session. The video presentation has been submitted to the conference so there won’t be an opportunity now to change it (though feedback still welcome for future work).

We needed to design a module covering both discrete maths and algorithms for a Work Based Learning (WBL) Software Engineering degree programme, where students spend half their time at their employers’ workplace. This entails deciding the order of topics, and explaining that to students. Sequence in the course is only one kind of relationship between topics in the module; relevance to work is another. Such explaining is a neglected educational issue. This paper addresses how to convey these relationships to learners. Because of the WBL context, it is inevitable that questions about how pieces of academic learning relate to the work context (which these students are already experiencing) arise immediately and vividly for them. This is important because it affects learner motivation, sometimes greatly, and also whether they are likely to learn in a surface or a deep mode. A given learner’s grasp of these relationships is both individual and changes over time. Because of this, the general pedagogical approach discussed here is “little and often”: raising it a number of times, with an emphasis not on one exhaustive and rigid view but on how different students often see it differently, and encouraging each to gradually develop their own view. The concept map diagram in this paper illustrates only one example of how the web of connections might be represented and conveyed during the course.

The video presentation can be found here: