Theorizing a one-semester real customer student software project course
Published inJyväskylä studies in computing
Project courses in software engineering education have, roughly speaking, as long a history as the term software engineering itself — about 40 years. Several project course models have been described in the literature, including the research target of the dissertation, a one-semester course where students develop software in small groups for real customers. The long history of the research ﬁeld constitutes a challenge for new research. The research approach of this dissertation is theorizing in the sense of classical grounded theory. The motivation behind this theorizing approach was the possibility of ﬁnding fresh viewpoints in a long-established research ﬁeld and a need to give structure to a research ﬁeld in which studies are often realized in the form of description. The dissertation consists of two parts. The ﬁrst part focuses on the course experiences of students. Here, the theory that was developed proposes that students’ positive course experiences are boosted when students are given a unique opportunity for a real-world experience. When realism is provided to students, who, as part of their professional development, are in need of such exposure, not only are the students’ positive ex- periences boosted but also their tolerance of negative experiences is increased. As a result, the students’ overall course experience tends to become positive whatever the problems that arise during the course. This mechanism enables an objective evaluation of student feedback, and implies that the curricular position of a course may play an important role in the nature of student feedback. The latter part of the dissertation focuses on the operational issues in the running of the course. The aim was to come to know how the course can be managed without annoying project delays. The theory that was developed emphasizes that implementation of the course must match the course context. The teacher is in a key role in seeking to understand the connection between the course context and the implementation of the course, as the teacher only can observe successive projects. The teacher must share these operational considerations with students to promote learning under intensive course work. Throughout the dissertation a lot of attention is paid to theorizing as a research approach ...
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
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