Collaborative Approach in Software Engineering Education: An Interdisciplinary Case

Aileen Joan O Vicente, Tiffany Adelaine G Tan, Alvin Ray O Yu
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 17  •  2018  •  pp. 127-152

This study was aimed at enhancing students’ learning of software engineering methods. A collaboration between the Computer Science, Business Management, and Product Design programs was formed to work on actual projects with real clients. This interdisciplinary form of collaboration simulates the realities of a diverse Software Engineering team.

A collaborative approach implemented through projects has been the established pedagogy for introducing the Software Engineering course to undergraduate Computer Science students. The collaboration, however, is limited to collaboration among Computer Science students and their clients. This case study explored an enhancement to the collaborative approach to project development by integrating other related disciplines into the project development framework; hence, the Interdisciplinary Approach.

This study adopted the case method approach. An interdisciplinary service innovation activity was proposed to invite other disciplines in the learning process of the computer science students. The agile methodology Scrum was used as the software development approach during project development. Survey data were collected from the students to establish (a) their perception of the interdisciplinary approach to project development; (b) the factors that influenced success or failure of their team to deliver the project; and (c) the perceived skills or knowledge that they acquired from the interdisciplinary approach. Analysis of data followed a mixed method approach.

The study improved the current pedagogy for Software Engineering education by integrating other related disciplines into the software project development framework.

Data collected showed that the students generally accepted the interdisciplinary approach to project development. Factors such as project relevance, teamwork, time and schedule, and administration support, among others, affect team performance towards project completion. In the case of the Computer Science students, results show that students have learned skills during the experience that, as literature reveal, can only be acquired or mastered in their future profession as software engineers.

The active collaboration of the industry with the University and the involvement of the other related courses in teaching software engineering methods are critical to the development of the students, not only in learning the methodology but also as a working professional.

It is interesting to know and eventually understand the interactions between interdisciplinary team members in the conduct of Software Engineering practices while working on their projects. More specifically, what creative tensions arise and how do the interdisciplinary teams handle the discourse?

This study bridges the gap between how Software Engineering is taught in the university and how Software Engineering teams work in real life.

Future research is targeted at refining and elaborating the elements of the interdisciplinary framework presented in this paper towards an integrated course module for Software Engineering education.

software engineering education, interdisciplinary learning, collaborative approach
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