Training software engineers using open-source software: The students' perspective

Gustavo Pinto, Clarice Ferreira, Cleice Souza, Igor Steinmacher, Paulo Meirelles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Software Engineering courses often emphasize teaching methodologies and concepts in small and controlled environments over teaching, say, maintenance aspects of full-fledged real software systems. This decision is partly justified due to the difficulty of bringing to the context of a classroom a real software project. The widespread presence of open source projects, however, is contributing to alleviating this problem. Several instructors have already adopted contributions to open source projects as part of their evaluation process, and these instructors reported many benefits, including the improvement on students' technical and social skills. However, little is known about the students' perceptions regarding the need to contribute to an open source project as part of a Software Engineering course. To better understand the students' challenges, benefits, and attitudes, we conducted 21 semi-structured interviews with students who took these courses in five different Brazilian universities. We also enriched this data with an analysis of commits performed in the repositories that students contributed to. We observed that even though some instructors chose the open source projects to students to work themselves, some students and even the open source community participated in the process of choosing projects and tasks. Students' contributions varied concerning both complexity (measured by the number of additions, deletions, and edited files) and diversity (measured regarding the different programming languages used). Among the benefits, students reported improving their technical skills and their self-confidence. Finally, some students found extremely important for instructors' being involved with open source initiatives (extra-classroom).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationSoftware Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-SEET 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Pages147-157
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781728110004
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2019
Event41st IEEE/ACM International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-SEET 2019 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: May 25 2019May 31 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - 2019 IEEE/ACM 41st International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-SEET 2019

Conference

Conference41st IEEE/ACM International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-SEET 2019
Country/TerritoryCanada
CityMontreal
Period5/25/195/31/19

Keywords

  • Open Source Communities
  • Open Source Software
  • Software Engineering Courses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education

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