Y. Furman Shaharabani, S. Tidhar, A. Soffer

ORT Braude College (ISRAEL)
Engineering education involves development of students' skills to match current and future industry requirements. Software development projects are characterized by high level of uncertainty and limited resources, and require effective and efficient team work. Effective team dynamics is a significant success factor in such projects, hence, developing students' teamwork skills during undergraduate studies is important.

The ‘Engineering Methodologies for Software Systems Development’ is a third year course of a B.Sc. program in Software Engineering. Following the project-based learning format (PBL), the students are required to develop a software system while working as integrated teams, resembling development teams in the industry. The students’ work in this course is self-managed: they are responsible for making decions regarding planning, scheduling and task allocation among the team members, as well as engineering decision which are part of the development process. The course includes a newly developed teamwork module designed to enhance skills such as effective communication, risk and conflict management. The students are required to preper a team contract at the beginning of the course, and to reflect on their work and team-dynamics.

Factors such as trust and fruitful communication were found to influence students' work quality during projects. Student's prior knowledge and experience is known as strongly related to their learning. The goals of this research are to explore the students' developing interests and skills in team dynamics. In particular, the first research question reported here is: What are the students' initial perceptions of project teamwork regarding: 1. team goals 2. expected difficulties and 3. resources for team success.

The data sources were ten group's contracts from the beginning of 2016 spring course, which were inductively analized to yield content categories. This research is currently in progress. Preliminary findings are:
Team goals at the beginning of the course included three categories: efficient work; learning during the project; team collaboration. The students expected the following difficulties: time shortage, controversy among team members, work load, unequal distribution of the team work and project synchronising problems, for example working on old project version. The resources the students expected to contribute were of three types: technology, human and time. The human resourse included their team mates and the course instructors.

Implications of our findings will be discussed during the presentation. The results of this research will contribute to improving the learning experience and the ability to equipt the students with practical tools which enhance the readiness of software engineering students for their future carrier.