Speaking of Software: Case Studies in Software Communication

Speaking of Software: Case Studies in Software Communication

Ann Brady (Michigan Technological University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-102-5.ch005
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We describe our recent efforts to generate and use case studies to teach communication skills in software development. We believe our work is innovative in several respects. The case studies touch on rhetorical issues that are crucial to software development yet not commonly associated with the field of software engineering. Moreover, they present students with complex, problematic situations, rather than sanitized post hoc interpretations often associated with case study assignments. The case study project is an interdisciplinary collaboration that interweaves the expertise of software engineers and technical communicators. Our software engineering and technical communication curricula have been enhanced through this cross-fertilization.
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We believe there is a significant gulf between the skills that students practice in academia and the skills they must use in the workplace. In this section, we show that practicing software developers acknowledge the importance of communication skills and expect new employees to have them. We then turn to the current state of software engineering education and comment on the status of communication skills in academia.

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