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Development of a Project-Based Learning Approach in Requirement Engineering

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Project failure is due to the lack of Requirement Engineering (RE) practice. The Industry needs to allocate another cost to send their employee for additional training before the employee can contribute to the job specification. It indicates that current practices of delivery mechanisms at the university fail to deliver graduates with employability skills. The objective of this research is to identify weaknesses in current practice of teaching Software Engineering undergraduate in Requirement Engineering. Additionally, this paper emphasized that Project-Based Learning (PjBL) is a right method for delivery mechanisms to enhance Software Engineering undergraduate skills particularly in RE. The PjBL is a superset to Problem-Based Learning, Individual-Collaborative Learning and Product-Based Learning. The intersection can strongly assist in the learning environment. Future work should be carried out to design the framework of PjBL, measuring the effectiveness of PjBL and the electronic Learning eNvironment (eLIN) system as a supportive tools to make PjBL successful.
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  (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010 Development of a Project-Based Learning Approachin Requirement Engineering  Nor Azliana Akmal Jamaludin Fakulti Industri Teknologi Maklumat,Universiti Industri Selangor (UNISEL)45600 Bestari Jaya, Selangor, Malaysianorazliana@unisel.edu.my Shamsul Sahibuddin Advanced Informatics School, UTM InternationalCampus, Universiti Teknologi MalaysiaJalan Semarak, 54100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysiashamsul@utm.my   Kamaruzaman Jusoff  Faculty of Forestry,Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM   )43400 UPM Serdang Selangor, Malaysiakamaruz@putra.upm.edu.my  Nur Hafizah Hidayat Fakulti Industri Teknologi Maklumat,Universiti Industri Selangor (UNISEL)45600 Bestari Jaya, Selangor, Malaysianur_hafizah @unisel.edu.my   Abstract —Project failure is due to the lack of RequirementEngineering (RE) practice. The Industry needs to allocateanother cost to send their employee for additional training beforethe employee can contribute to the job specification. It indicatesthat current practices of delivery mechanisms at the universityfail to deliver graduates with employability skills. The objectiveof this research is to identify weaknesses in current practice of teaching Software Engineering undergraduate in RequirementEngineering. Additionally, this paper emphasized that Project-Based Learning (PjBL) is a right method for deliverymechanisms to enhance Software Engineering undergraduateskills particularly in RE. The PjBL is a superset to Problem-Based Learning, Individual-Collaborative Learning and Product-Based Learning. The intersection can strongly assist in thelearning environment. Future work should be carried out todesign the framework of PjBL, measuring the effectiveness of PjBL and the electronic Learning eNvironment (eLIN) system asa supportive tools to make PjBL successful.   Keywords- Software Engineering education; Project-Based  Learning (PjBL); Requirement Engineering; Problem-Based     Learning; Individual & Collaborative Problem Solving and  Product-Based Learning.)   I.   I  NTRODUCTION  The number, size, and application domains of computer  programs have grown dramatically. As a result, hundreds of  billions are being spent on software development, and thelivelihood and lives of most people depend on the effectivenessof this development. Since the dawn of computing in the1940s, the use of computers and its applications have grown ata staggering rate. Software plays a central role in almost allaspects of our daily lives: in government, banking and finance,education, transportation, entertainment, medicine, agriculture,and law [37]. The current trend shows that students’Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) does not representtheir skill [35]. In addition, academic supply does not meet theindustry demands [17]. Recent trends with the effects of therecession, the unemployment rate is increasing. Because of thiseconomic situation, something needs to be done for thestudents to prepare themselves before entering into the work force and these new graduates must understand what skills theindustry is seeking [50]. Based on that reason, this researchcarried out the first objective that is to identify weaknesses incurrent practice of teaching Software Engineeringundergraduate in Requirement Engineering.II.   I  NDUSTRY AND S OFTWARE E  NGINEERING E DUCATION P ERSPECTIVE    A.    Industry Collaboration   The report shown in Table 1 marked a decrease in projectsuccess rates, with 32% of all projects surveyed weresuccessful defined as projects delivered on time and within budget, with required features and functions. Another 44% of all projects surveyed were challenged defined as late, over  budget, and/or with less than the required features andfunctions. The remaining 24% of all projects surveyed faileddefined as cancelled prior to completion or delivery and never used [14]. In software development industry, companies willusually tackle three main problems: cost minimization, tightdeadlines and quality product. An engineering approach insoftware development will help them to overcome these problems. 298http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500  (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010 TABLE 1. THE TREND OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS BY STANDISHGROUP’S CHAOS (2009) REPORT. Year ‘09(%)‘06(%)‘04(%)‘02(%)‘00(%)‘98(%)‘96(%)‘94(%)   SuccessfulProject 32 35 29 34 28 26 27 16 ChallengedProjects 44 19 53 15 23 28 40 31 FailedProjects 24 46 18 51 49 46 33 53 Industry needs employees who are skilled in developingnew application system, but they do not have the time or trainers to complete the training. It is supported by Bernhart etal (2006). He states that if students fail to deliver a minimumquality at the beginning, succeeding phases may receive areduced quality as a work basis. This may reduce the learningexperience in later phases [6]. Some researchers haveconcluded that businesses and universities share some similar challenges, and increased cooperation between the two entitieswill assist in shared solutions for both [15]. Therefore, studentshould be taught seriously in software development process asa field of Software Engineering [5, 25].  B.   Future Challenges in Software Engineering Education Boehm (2006) identifies future challenges in SoftwareEngineering education with his simple hypothesis: “software people don’t like to see Software Engineering doneunsuccessfully, and try to make things better”. Mead (2009)was look into the challenges from global reach of education,new creative evolution of delivery mechanism, new professional efforts and the need of engage in leadership inSoftware Engineering education [10, 13, 27, 39]. The studylooked into the curriculum of undergraduate particularly indeveloping mission-critical system and non-critical system.Furthermore, the continuous research is still looking for methods on how to maintain vitality and how to develop a newgeneration of Software Engineering educators throughconference, working groups and committees electronic publishing [10, 39]. They also encourage others to joinSoftware Engineering profession. Licensing or certificationwill become a major trend in the future and will create newspecialization. However, looking at the fundamental conceptshave not changed significantly since progress took shape somethirty years ago. As in hardware design, the technologyevolves, but the concepts remain [2]. Students usually learn best by physically doing something. Students of course will bemore interested to come to school if they think that educationis fun and beneficial in the future and not as a burden [3]. C.    Improvement should be included into Software Engineering Education Many of the skills that students are expected to have canonly be learned by doing hands-on practices. Furthermore,Jackson (2007) discussed on interacting with real customerson tight deadlines and budgets with high expectations, and being able to work effectively in an almost exclusively teamoriented environment with increasingly complex teamstructures and compositions. Software Engineering is anappropriate course to meld all of these ideas together to produce better simulates a real world environment [40]. It is because software products have helped people to be moreefficient and productive such as Collaborative ApplicationLifecycle Management Solutions from IBM Rational (2010).It make more effective problem solvers, and it provide with anenvironment for work and play which is often safer, moreflexible, and less confining. As a result, Software Engineeringcurriculum should involve five complementary elements [43]including principles practices, applications, tools andmathematics.The researcher outlines the similarity of the technologicalcharacteristics from Engineering Education that needs to beadapted into Software Engineering Education to increaseemployability. The profiles may be conveniently sketched interms of three components [42] that include knowledge, skillsand attitudes . However, sustainable world-class performancewill not occur if there is a misalignment between a university programmes objectives and actual market requirements. Inaddition, effective faculty wide coordination in relation tomarket driven initiatives is essential for ensuring the effectiveuse of company resources [18]. Employers now focus onadaptation, cost reduction, increased productivity, and newmarkets, products and services.III.   REQUIREMENT   ENGINEERING  A.    Requirement Engineering Challenges Requirement Engineering (RE) practice appears to haveimproved collaboration ties and may have led to culturalchanges that values cooperation, quality, and customer satisfaction [12]. Currently the success of a software systemdepends on how well it fits the needs of its users and itsenvironment. Requirements encompass more than desiredfunctionality – users increasingly demand systems that areusable, reliable, secure and economical, while productdevelopers want to be able to adapt and enhance productsrapidly, in response to changing both user’s needs andenvironmental conditions [9]. Education become a kick-startin developing skills amongst the students (future employee) tocater the problem part (RE) before continues to solution part(other software artifacts such as design, development, testing,quality and maintenance) to improved productivity, qualityand risk management. This is because customer satisfaction isthe most pertinent priority in producing the successful product.Zave (1997) provides one of the clearest definitions of RE:“Requirements Engineering is the branch of SoftwareEngineering concerned with the real-world goals for, functionsof, and constraints on software systems. It is also concernedwith the relationship of these factors to precise specificationsof software behavior, and to their evolution over time andacross software families . 299http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500  (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010 IV.   PROJECT-BASED   LEARNING  A.   The Comparative Study of Universities Experience inusing PjBL Hence, a few experiences from universities with a varietyof domain that implemented project-based works in their delivery mechanism are discussed. Firstly, TechnologicalEducation Institute of Larissa, Greece, use PjBL to allowstudents to improve their cognitive, collaborative,methodological and technical skills on Enterprise ResourcePlanning (ERP) systems through active participation inchallenging and interdisciplinary ERP projects [21].Secondly, Oregon State University in general, analyse andsynthesize the collaborative and Project-Based Learningfeatures resulted in 32 design features that were placed in thefollowing six categories: (i) learning group size, (ii) functionalspaces for learning activities, (iii) adjacencies, (iv) furnishings,(v) psychological and physiological support of the learners,and (vi) structural aspects. It can be used for architect,educator, planner and learner [51].Thirdly, Department of Computer Engineering, Bo ğ aziçiUniversity in subject Cmpe450 previously used lectureoriented course, small group projects were assigned tostudents, in expectation that they should apply the theory to practice and they were expected to submit well-documentedfindings. Then, they changed to emphasize the project in termsof its size, scope, complexity and grading. The project topicsincluded an e-learning system, various versions of departmentautomation portal and a purchase automation system for thewhole university. The first demonstrations were total disasters.It is after the first demonstration that they realize the severityof the expectations and what failure means. Therefore thedocumentation should be very precise to enable hiring of anadministrator for the final product. It is too hard and often notapplicable to map the theory and the practice part of the course[49].Fourthly, Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ and FairfieldUniversity in Fairfield, CT is introducing PjBL in their theoretical Software Engineering course. Local-Remote TeamOrganization and Communication Techniques (represent PjBLtool) was used in the theoretical Software Engineering course.Three of the projects were to extend existing products and one project was completely new. This research argues that studentscan be prepared to effectively join industry and keep the UStechnology workforce competitive through a curriculum thatincludes a theoretical Software Engineering course with real-world projects and the collaboration of paired teams acrosstwo or more universities. It was also appealing that all teammembers, local and remote, could have instant access to their materials from anywhere [44].Fifthly, College of Arts and Sciences (Applied Science)Universiti Utara Malaysia called the method as BlendedProject Based Learning. In support of the use of PjBL, a prototype known as md-Matrix has been used to assiststudents in choosing an appropriate development methodology based on their project requirements. The proposed decisiontool can be considered as necessary to assist the students(novice developers) in choosing an appropriate developmentmethodology for their project. The implementation of the toolin blended PjBL will not only make the decision making process more effective but also help them with better learning[45].Sixthly, Department of Mechanical Engineering,Politeknik Kota Bharu, tested Project-Based Learning module based on socio-constructivist approach in Diploma inAutomotive. The project development ran a pilot test withinsix month to explore the influence of the utilization of thePjBL module on students’ meta-cognition, motivation andself-regulation. In addition, it transforms teaching from‘lecturers/supervisors telling’ to ‘engineering students doing’.The result shows that the overall engineering students reportedhigher level of motivation, self-confidence and self-regulationthroughout the process. The PjBL also enhances the cognitiveand critical thinking in engineering problem solving amongstudents. The use of PjBL module enables students to plantheir project easily, work collaboratively with peers withminimal supervision from supervisors or lecturers andsuccessfully complete their project on time [23].Seventhly, Civil engineering degree at University of Malaya, Engineering Surveying Camp (Year-I of a four-year)test Outcome Based Education Using Project Based Learningin two-week field course. The aims are to evaluate theeffectiveness, and to identify potential improvement. The needto change the paradigm of the majority of lecturers that areused to the conventional teaching methods, which worked onwere real project to be completed within a short duration of the course. The students were primarily focused on theachievement of course outcomes. The academics, though, hadanother goal of ensuring that the project was completed withquality outputs to ensure the other aspects including the day today running of the camp, transportation, logistics, health andsafety on top of the course outcomes. The technical aspectswere achievable though with lesser degree for the engineeringdesign. On soft skills, students demonstrated an overallimprovement of competency but it was difficult to ascertainthe levels for the average students while the best and poor  performers were easily observed [24].  B.   Project-Based Learning Method in Requirement  Engineering Education Experiential method refers to the terms of evaluation or what has changed or improved as a result. Because of that,Project-Based Learning (PjBL) is a model that organizeslearning around projects. According to the definitions found inPjBL handbooks for teachers, projects are complex tasks, based on challenging questions or problems, that involvesstudents in designing, problem-solving, decision making, or investigative activities; gives students the opportunity to work relatively autonomously over extended periods of time; andculminate in realistic products or presentations [31, 48].Other defining features found in the literature includeauthentic content, authentic assessment, teacher facilitation butnot direction, explicit educational goals [38], cooperativelearning, reflection, and incorporation of adult skills [16]. Tothese features, particular models of PjBL added a number of unique features. Definitions of ‘Project-Based Instruction’ 300http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500  (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, December 2010 include features relating to the use of an authentic (driving)question, a community of inquiry, and the use of cognitive(technology-based) tools [32, 36] and expeditionary learningadds features of comprehensive school improvement,community service, and multidisciplinary themes [47].The assignment encourages students to use problem-solving skills and collaboration to successfully complete the project. The university will benefit very much in these projectsas it involves hardware and/or software that is not available atthe institution. The cooperating organization gains by having alow priority project completed without any cost. Based on theexperience of the author, companies that do end upimplementing the student-developed results are often quitewilling to make a contribution (hardware, software or money)to the university [26]. PjBL helps make learning relevant anduseful to students by establishing connections to life outsidethe classroom, addressing larger concerns, enhancing their critical skills, and shaping their learning process by beingactive participants [7]. What differentiates PjBL fromtraditional class lessons is that the teacher acts more like afacilitator than like the sage on the stage.Jazayeri (2004) states that class teaching should integratewith projects. This is often recognized as a very critical issuein Software Engineering education. Replaying the complexityof real-life projects in an educational environment can beimpossible. Thus we need to find innovative ways of integrating project work in curricula [19, 30]. They argued that projects should be realistic, but students should be aware of the differences with the real life, in terms of team size,requirements for compatibility with legacy systems andunavailability of real stakeholders.All the literature reviewed in previous section discussedthe significance of skill for employability amongundergraduate is an undeniable fact. The undergraduates makethe most numbers of contributors for employability rather than post-graduate. The discussion scope is focused on SoftwareEngineering undergraduates in the industry nowadays.Software Engineering is the most significant in the presentindustry. Due to the failure of product and deliverables in theindustry, the literature shows that Requirement Engineering isa factor to that failure. To solve the problem, higher learningeducation is a platform to assist the Software Engineeringundergraduate in enhancing their skills through learning. Inaddition, the Project-Based Learning should be a method tohelp the learning environment. It can be supported by thetools. If the students enhance their skill, it will benefit theindustry in term of cost in sending the students to trainingcourses and thus employer will attain employability skills. Thestudent will get a skill without wasting their time (to attendother training course) and is more confident on acquiring the job. Software Engineering education; particularly RequirementEngineering education will come out most prominent backedwith an effective learning environment in using PjBL toenhance student skills. Figure 1. Problem-Based Learning, Individual & Collaborative ProblemSolving and Product-Based Learning are a subset to Project-Based Learning Additionally the researcher identified that Project-BasedLearning is a superset for Individual & Collaborative ProblemSolving [20, 22, 34], Problem-Based Learning [4, 41, 46] andProduct-Based Learning [1, 33]. In contrast, all of them aresubset to Project-Based Learning and have an intersection witheach other. All major generic skills scheme such as conceptual‘thinking’ and interpersonal ‘teamwork’ skills will be asignificant factor in PjBL [6, 44].If the PjBL wants to be implemented successfully for undergraduate Software Engineering, they need to identifysuitable tools, the people with the know-how in PjBL and theneeds to come up with a guideline that refers to tertiaryculture. By the time the need is identified, the courses havedeveloped, the students trained and the new technology haschanged. The education that succeeds will be the one thatfacilitates lifelong learning, equipping students with the skillsthey will need to adapt to change. Lacking information onwhat PjBL practices are most productive, evidence of PjBL'srelative effectiveness in comparison to other methods, and anoverall framework to guide their planning and collaborations[44].Moreover, the difficulties in choosing project type basedon level (diploma, degree or master level) of project will befaced by educators. The educator should form a project teamand identify their roles [11, 47].As a result, a Project-Based Learning curriculum addressesreal-life issues, stresses problem-solving skills, has the teacher serve as facilitator, and lets student’s self-assess progress.V.   CONCLUSIONIt can be concluded that current practice of teachingSoftware Engineering undergraduate in RequirementEngineering is weak. The superset of Project-Based Learning(PjBL) is strongly recommended to enhance SoftwareEngineering undergraduate skills in Requirement Engineering.Future work will be discussed on the next objective is todesign the framework of (PjBL) to be implemented inRequirement Engineering and to measure the effectiveness of Project-Based Learning in teaching Requirement Engineeringto enhance Software Engineering undergraduate skills. Theresearcher will do further research by implementing PjBL in Product-BasedLearningSolving Project-BasedLearning Individual &CollaborativeProblem SolvingProblem- BasedLearning 301http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
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