by Academy Admin

This section highlights innovative approaches to assessment and how they enhance the student experience. 

Inclusion of peer review through simulated research coference in the Master's award - the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield, CITY College Greece 2014 

The Department of Computer Science at the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield, CITY College, has established a learning-and-teaching experience that enables students of the MSc in Software Engineering and Telecommunications programme to engage in research and to become familiar with the process of publishing a research paper in a conference. Within the unit ‘Contemporary Issues in ICT’, students work in close collaboration with their lecturer with the aim of gaining substantial experience in conducting quantitative research and producing as a final outcome a research paper that can be submitted to an academic conference. The innovative learning-and-teaching process resembles very closely the actual procedure followed by researchers in order to submit a research paper to an academic conference and can be briefly summarised in the following steps: 

1. Students are divided into three or four member groups and are assigned a research topic related to application and usage of contemporary information and communication technologies.

2. Each team has to conduct an initial investigation of the research area by identifying and collecting relevant literature sources, formulating research questions and submitting a proposal, in a process simulating an extended abstract submission for a conference.

3. The students subsequently critically investigate and synthesise the relevant academic literature with the purpose of comprehending the context and key issues within the area of research. This process additionally guides students towards identifying measurable variables and formulating appropriate questions for constructing the final questionnaire.

4. The next step involves distributing the questionnaire, gathering the responses and performing basic statistical analysis in order to draw conclusions.

5. The artifacts produced in all previous steps are synthesised into a research paper formatted according to guidelines of prestigious ICT-related conferences. The research paper constitutes the primary deliverable of the unit.

6. Following the submission of the research paper each student is asked to act as a referee and to produce a critical review of the submitted research papers of their peers using standardised conference reviewing criteria.

7. Finally, each team is requested to present their work in front of an audience comprising lecturers and students in a process similar to presenting in a conference. 

The overall results of the unit are outstanding not only in terms of meeting the learning outcomes and maintaining student engagement but also in terms of producing tangible outcomes since at least one team each year manages to publish their work to an academic conference. We strongly believe that there are significant educational, professional and personal gains in involving students in research and we intend to further investigate ways of enhancing these benefits for our students.

Simulation of realistic software development experience via group inheriting each other's partially developed project - Swansea University 2014 

Students in their second year study two, linked, software engineering modules which incorporates elements of the software engineering process that are rarely taught. The first module addresses the first parts of the traditional software engineering process – requirements capture, specification etc. Students complete some of this work independently, and some in teams. The final assessment for this module sees teams building a partial implementation of a task specified by the module coordinator. After partial completion, groups swap work. They then produce a structured critical analysis of the work of the other team and, in the next stage complete the implementation. This gives them experience in working with a substantial amount of code written by others, which is not usually part of software engineering modules. (The assessment process does provide an ‘escape route’ to avoid issues with a team picking up a weak partial implementation.) As well as swapping code, groups are expected to work in a highly-disciplined way, with defined a defined coding style, meeting recording style and documentation requirements, meant to simulate a ‘house’ style. The final assessment is about re-engineering: making changes to their work based on revised requirements.

The innovative approach to the assessment of the Part 1 module SE1SE11 Software Engineering – University of Reading 2013

The innovative approach to the assessment of the Part 1 module SE1SE11 Software Engineering.  Within the module, students work together to plan, develop and create a board game to teach them about software engineering, this also gives them an insight into the industry and provides ways to enhance skills in team work, time management and communication.

The board game assignment was developed by Professor Rachel McCrindle, who by combining and embedding principles of research, enterprise, entrepreneurial activity and professional issues into her teaching, actively seeks to inspire students to be independent learners. She also aims to give them real-world skills in addition to the rigorous academic techniques they need for the modern workplace thereby enhancing their employability.

The assignment is a key example of this, developed for a first-year module, during which her students go through an engineering process themselves. They develop board games that incorporate the principles of software engineering in such a way that if someone else plays their game, they too learn about software engineering, thereby reinforcing learning on several levels. 

As well as developing their technical knowledge, Rachel’s processes are designed so that the students also enhance their softer skills. These skills include teamwork, time management, presentation, design and development, creative thinking and critical evaluation. All of these, while key to software engineering, also make a valuable contribution to other modules and experiences they will encounter during their degree, industrial placements and graduate employment.  The innovation of this as an approach to teaching was recognised nationally when Rachel won the HEA Engineering Subject Centre's Teaching Award in 2010. 

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