Research Paper

Agile Communicators: Cognitive Apprenticeship to Prepare Students for Communication-Intensive Software Development

Abstract

We report on our efforts to enhance our undergraduate computer science and software engineering curriculum, promoting what we term agile communication through practice in inquiry, critique, and reflection. We are targeting early courses in our curriculum so that students internalize agile practices as part of their personal software development process. Our approach constitutes a cognitive apprenticeship that engages students in authentic software settings and articulates processes that are traditionally left implicit.

Communication-intensive activities are woven through this curriculum in a variety of ways. The POGIL framework provides a structured approach to inquiry. Automated feedback on test coverage, programming style, and code documentation is provided through WebTA, a novel tool that we have integrated into the Canvas learning management system, providing communication by proxy that supplements instructor feedback with a continual critique of code and documentation. A program of guided inquiry through real case studies of software communication prepares students for their team software activities, and a series of reflective exercises leads them to focus on their own team communication practices.

Shreya Kumar
Department of Computer Science
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931-1295
[email protected]

Leo C. Ureel II
Department of Computer Science
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931-1295
[email protected]

Charles Wallace
Department of Computer Science
Michigan Technological University
Houghton, MI 49931-1295
[email protected]

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