Solutions to Challenges of Teaching "Systems Analysis and Design" for Undergraduate Software Engineers

Solutions to Challenges of Teaching "Systems Analysis and Design" for Undergraduate Software Engineers

Özlem Albayrak
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-344-9.ch006
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This study is an enhancement of previous research presented at the 2nd AIS SIGSAND European Symposium on Systems Analysis and Design and its improved version presented at the 3rd National Software Engineering Symposium (UYMS) 2007. The AIS-SIGSAND 2007 study, the first phase, was part of ongoing research by which systems analysis and design-teaching experiences related to course evaluation items were enlightened. This study summarizes previous studies and introduces new findings suggested by those studies that relate to teaching challenges on systems analysis and design in software engineering. The first challenge studied is to decide a suitable evaluation item set in undergraduate level system analysis and design courses for software engineers. The second challenge relates to implicit assumptions made by software engineers during the analysis phase. Based on pre-interview, test, and post-interview data, the study presents a snapshot of an analysis in software engineering regarding implicit assumptions made by analysts. Related to these challenges, the study concludes with proposals on systems analysis and design education.
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Software engineering education” is an important and a challenging arena that involves certain myths and human interaction (Ghezzi and Madrioli, 2005; Hawthorne and Perry, 2005; Hillburn and Watts, 2002; Morrogh, 2000; Vliet, 2005; Hazzan and Tomayko, 2005). Due to this importance, there have been many studies conducted in this area. Several guidelines for software engineering education were prepared (Albayrak, 2003; Bagert, Hilburn, Hislop and Mengel, 1998; Thomas, Semeczko, Morarji and Mohay, 1994; Vliet, 2006). Some studies concentrated on pre-graduation challenges and studied software engineering curricula (Cifuentes and Hughes, 1994; Pullan and Oliver, 1994; Bagert 1998; Parnas, 1999; Schneider, Johnston and Joyce, 2005). Other studies were conducted to prepare software engineers for real life by suggesting industry and university collaboration (Clark, 2005; Ellis, Mead, Moreno and Seidman, 2003; Dawson and Newsham, 1997; Dawson, 2000; Yamaura and Onoma, 2002) or via software engineering projects (Aizamil, 2005; Liu, 2005; Morgan and Lear, 1994; Mohay, Morarji, Thomas, 1994; Oudshoom and Maciunas, 1994). A great deal has been written on the future of software engineering education (Boehm, 2006; Cianciarini, 2005; Bagert, et. al., 1998).

Software engineering is an integrated discipline. Systems analysis and design are two main elements of software development. For today’s software engineers, understanding the problem correctly (analysis) and solving it in the best possible way (design) are very important. Thus, special emphasis must be given to teaching systems analysis and design to software engineers.

Studies on teaching systems analysis and design courses were conducted long before Hunter’s research on attributes of excellent systems analysts (Hunter, 1994). System Analysis and Design (SAD) in a computer science curriculum was suggested by Spence and Grout in 1978 (Spence and Grout, 1978). Several aspects of SAD course development were studied (Golden, 1982; Goroff, 1982; McLeod, 1996; Larmour, 1997). Archer proposed a realistic approach to teaching SAD (Archer, 1985), while Olfman and Bostrom analyzed innovative teaching for SAD (Olfman and Bolstrom, 1992). Osborne proposed the use of a CASE tool for teaching systems analysis and design (Osborne, 1992), and Dick suggested the use of student interviews (Dick, 2005). During the 1990s, human factors related to SAD were investigated, and teamwork and the human factor in SAD teaching were studied (Fellers, 1993; Omland, 1999). Following the previous studies, Misic and Russo aimed to identify the importance of the educators’ role in various systems development tasks, activities, and approaches and to compare educators’ perceptions to those of practicing systems analysts (Misic and Russo, 1999).

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