A. Beranoagirre

EHU/UPV The University of the Basque Country (SPAIN)
This paper describes a one year undergraduate education program in software engineering. This program is designed around the principle of exploratory learning, whereby the students are trained to build knowledge by themselves and actively search for solutions to the problems they experience. In addition to the essential aspects of software engineering: managing complexity of large, changing systems and the ability to work in teams; the program also aims to prepare the students for working in a field of rapidly changing conditions and constraints. This paper describes how these high level goals have been implemented in an actual curriculum. At the core of the program is a set of project courses to simulate the conditions in an industrial environment. The paper summarizes the main lessons learned. Few areas of education pose the challenges software engineering does when it comes to selecting curriculum contents that will be of value throughout the student’s professional careers. Not only is software engineering a young area, but it is also a rapidly changing area in terms of its technological foundation: computer and information technology. This technology changes both the kind of systems to be built by software engineers and the tools available with which to build them. Progress in the tool support available to software engineers is perhaps the best illustration of the changing conditions in the field.
In this paper we describe an attempt to resolve this dilemma by designing a practice driven education program where the students are trained to learn by themselves rather than being taught canned knowledge from books and lectures.
Being a teacher in practice-driven education is both rewarding and demanding. It has given us great satisfaction to work with students that are active and eager to search for knowledge. It is also difficult because we are influenced by the conventional style of the teachers during our own education. Using a practice-driven approach, the teachers must live as they preach and actively search new knowledge by themselves.