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FAU Awarded Collaborative National Science Foundation Grant to Study Teamwork Effectiveness in Software Engineering Education

Florida Atlantic University’s department of computer and electrical engineering and computer science associate professor Shihong Huang, Ph.D., has received a collaborative three-year, $200,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) grant in conjunction with San Francisco State University and Fulda University in Germany to find out the effectiveness and efficacy of teamwork in students learning experience. This research is in response to demands of the software engineering industry and is the first to apply novel machine learning techniques to understand, assess and predict student learning of software engineering in teamwork across globally distributed teams.

“We are very pleased to be a selected as a part of this research study,” said Borko Furht, Ph.D., chair of the FAU department of computer and electrical engineering and computer science. “Collaborations provide important opportunities to share new ideas in engineering and computer science and will help our students when they enter the workforce.”

The principal investigators on the three-year study also include Dragutin Petkovic, Ph.D., professor and chair of San Francisco State's computer science department; Kazunori Okada, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at San Francisco State and Rainer Todtenhoefer, Ph.D., professor of applied science at Fulda University in Germany.

The research on software engineering project failure rates points to how team members interact with each other rather than a problem with technology. Objective and quantitative teamwork data will be collected on student activities in ongoing, jointly taught undergraduate computer science courses at the three institutions. The data will then be analyzed using novel machine learning tools to discover a pattern for student success in acquiring teamwork skills and to discover when to intervene when a team is at risk of failing.

Understanding how to create successful team communication in software engineering projects will help industries work more efficiently and fine tune their training processes, and will help students learn to communicate more effectively in globally distributed teams.

“This study will provide the objective and quantitative benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness and efficacy of teamwork. Students in the class will use state-of-the-art technologies and have hands-on experience in developing real-world projects, and collaborating and communicating with peers who are geographically distributed with different cultures, backgrounds and time zones. The goal of this collaborative effort is to enhance the students’ learning experience in Software Engineering, to better prepare the students for the challenges facing the ever-increasing globalization of software development, and to make the students more competitive in today’s software industry” said Huang.

For more information, contact Shihong Huang at 561-297-1275 or shihong@fau.edu.

August 30, 2012

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