Making the Work Visible in a Project Based Course

David Socha, Ph.D. (Computing & Software Systems)

How can a classroom approach the richness of an industrial setting for an analysis and design class in which students are using a variety of business and software models to better understand the needs related to a potential product or service and how a business and software‐enabled system could be built to fulfill these needs? This is the question that I struggled with last quarter when I taught CSS 370‐ Analysis and Design for the first time, and which led me to completely redesign the structure of this course over spring break. The results so far have been very encouraging.

This poster focuses on this set of changes. Two of the more intriguing changes focus on how to create more robust and rich conversations between modelers and domain experts. Firstly, I had each team of 3‐4 students come up a 30‐second pitch for a product or service concept of their choosing within a set of predefined constraints. Each team then became the customer team for their preferred concept, and the “team to their left” became the modeler team for this concept. This allows each team to have the rich conversations between the team modeling the concept, and the team acting as the domain experts for the concept. Secondly, I provided each team with their own 3' x 4' whiteboard (inexpensive melanin board custom cut at Home Depot), around which they work in each class co‐creating understanding within their team, or between modeler team and customer team. Having a shared visible artifact that they are co‐creating increases the level of collaboration, and makes it easier for the instructor to assess where they are, ask questions, provide insights and otherwise coach the students in the practices being taught.

Did You Know?

Seventy percent of first-year students are from diverse backgrounds