Students' and Instructors' Perceptions of Five Different Active Learning Strategies Used to Teach Software Modeling

Williamson Silva, Igor Steinmacher, Tayana Conte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Unified modeling language (UML) is a modeling standard in the software industry. However, students face difficulties when learning how to model complete and correct UML diagrams, in part because the traditional teacher-centered approach still dominates in computer science. In an attempt to bridge this gap, and to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning in computing courses, educators use strategies that encourage students' active participation in the learning process. The goal of this paper is to understand how active learning strategies influence the teaching and learning process of UML diagrams. We performed four case studies in undergraduate courses at two universities. We collected: (a) students' perceptions of each strategy through questionnaires and focus group sessions; and (b) instructors' perceptions of the challenges faced in using such strategies through semi-structured interviews. We found fifteen factors that influence the active learning of UML diagrams. Whereas the literature shows that students often positively respond to active learning strategies, our results show that some students have had negative responses to the new strategies. Additionally, we identified four challenges that instructors may face when employing active learning strategies. The contributions of this paper include: factors perceived by students about how active learning strategies influence the learning of UML diagrams, the challenges and difficulties faced by instructors in applying these strategies, and suggestions on how to circumvent challenges noted by instructors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8765700
Pages (from-to)184063-184077
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Active learning strategies
  • computer science education
  • empirical study
  • modeling education
  • software engineering education
  • unified modeling language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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