How far can ‘Authenticity’ be achieved in Software Engineering Project Based courses?

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Conference Proceeding
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Software engineering (SE) students need sufficient technical knowledge, communication and social skills as well as problem solving ability in order to be industry ready. SE Educators frequently use ‘authentic assessment’ tasks to give students ‘real world’ experience in software development projects. In this paper, we present and discuss the results from the data collected and analysed from an SE project based course that incorporated authentic assessment. The aim of the study is to explore how far authenticity can be achieved. The study was conducted at Calgary University with 64 software development project teams, totalling 229 undergraduate students in their first SE subject. The data is collected from three semesters (2016-2018) in order to assess and monitor students’ problem solving and social skills throughout the course. The course design used seven authentic assessments that focused on students’ skills while covering complete software development lifecycle. The results from analysis showed that students made progress in some areas of problem solving skills, however they struggled in social skills (people handling skills, negotiations skills and organizational skills), quality understanding and adaptability.
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