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The practical method of motivating students to iterative software development

The practical method of motivating students to iterative software development,10.1109/CSEET.2011.5876135,Ondrej Macek,Martin Komarek

The practical method of motivating students to iterative software development  
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Iteration-based software development is a popular and widely used software development approach. Therefore students have to get familiar with it; however it is difficult for them to work iteratively. We designed new courses aimed at software development in a way in which students are forced to use incremental and iterative development instead of the waterfall model. The new project-oriented courses focus on project management (regular planning and reporting) and emphasize students’ motivation toward project success. A number of different software development methodologies have been developed. The traditional methodologies are mainly based on the waterfall model, and as software has become larger and more complex, these methodologies have been found to be counterproductive. More iterative and incremental approaches, such as Unified Process (UP) [1] and Scrum [2], are preferred these days. In our courses we try to teach students the benefits of these approaches. The second goal of our courses is to allow students to try one of these approaches on a project. To fulfill these goals, the main concepts of IT project management are presented and students have to collaborate on a software implementation and creation of necessary documentation. We found out that iterative approach and planning is a problem for students. Although students knew the principle and benefits of iterative development, they did not use it in their project. The classic approach of students was to fulfill all necessary checkpoints during the semester, but most of the work was done during the last few days before the checkpoint or end of the semester. A typical development lifecycle was a waterfall when all analysis was done before implementation and any change in the project was almost impossible. Therefore low-quality software was produced or projects ended unfinished. This situation was caused because students were not focused on their projects and they were not forced to work continuously. Students have a lot of activities besides just one course or just school - they have to prepare for other courses and they often study and work part-time simultaneously. To improve students’ focus we decided to upgrade the project courses significantly. The main idea was to bring software development and project management closely together with an emphasis on iterative software development and student motivation. In this paper we try to show a brief overview of project management techniques and the techniques of motivation/encouragement we used to create a new course of project management and software development. The paper is organized as follows: first there is a short description of the new structure of our courses, then new software development lifecycle for students' projects is discussed, next motivation and encouragement techniques are mentioned. At the end of the paper there opinions of students and teachers are presented.
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