About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3532-3538
Publication year: 2016
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.1839

Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain


S. Rueda, J.I. Panach, J.B. Cabotà, F. Valverde

Universitat de Valencia, Departament d'Informàtica (SPAIN)
Current trends on education are focused on introducing practical activities as similar as possible to real problems that students will face within their professional works. Curriculums in universities have several subjects related to good practices on software development (UML models, development methodologies, design patterns, testing, etc.). However, in all of them, the software to develop is usually specified through text. This contrasts with what happens in the labor market, where usually developers must understand the software requirements through interviews with the end users.

In order to involve students in a context similar to professional life, we have applied a role-playing game where they elicit the software requirements through an interview with the teacher that plays the role of the end user. This approach has several advantages compared to providing a textual description of the system to develop. Using role-playing, students develop a set of skills that they do not develop if the system specification is presented textually.

Next, we highlight three main advantages:
(1) Students must learn a technique to elicit requirements through interviews. They must learn, what to ask, what to report and how to conduct the interview.
(2) Students have to develop the aptitude of working in a team of developers, since the whole development is performed in groups of 5 or 6 students. This forces the students to report all the data extracted from the interviews in order to share all the knowledge among all the members of the team.
(3) Students have to learn how to validate their ideas with end users. Finally, the teacher, who plays the role of end user, must check whether or not the requirements understood by the students are the same as needed.

The approach was applied in the subject of Software Engineering at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería (ETSE) in the Universitat de València, Spain, within two degrees: Telematics Engineering and Computer Engineering. Every year since 2010, students must develop a software project from Requirements specification to Java Code using UML specifications. Previous years, software specification was shared with students through a textual description. The last year, we have proposed a project with similar difficulty than previous years, but using the role-playing game approach to avoid the textual description. In order to compare requirements specification quality and student engagement using a textual description versus interviews with role-playing game, we have applied each treatment to each degree. Students of Telematics Engineering had the textual description of the system specification while students of the degree in Computer Engineering had to interview the teacher who played the role of the end user. This way, we can study pros and cons of role-playing game compared with a textual description in the development of the same project.

From the analysis of results, we extract several conclusions. The application of role-playing game approach is similar than using textual approach in terms of quality of software requirements specification. The time to assist to the interviews, to report the extracted data, to coordinate the interviews and to validate with the end user is an extra time that only took students with role-playing game. Although the effort of the students is higher in the role-playing game, their motivation and engagement in the project is better than with a textual description.
author = {Rueda, S. and Panach, J.I. and Cabotà, J.B. and Valverde, F.},
series = {9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2016 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-5895-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2016.1839},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2016.1839},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2016},
year = {2016},
pages = {3532-3538}}
AU - S. Rueda AU - J.I. Panach AU - J.B. Cabotà AU - F. Valverde
SN - 978-84-617-5895-1/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2016.1839
PY - 2016
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2016
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2016 Proceedings
SP - 3532
EP - 3538
ER -
S. Rueda, J.I. Panach, J.B. Cabotà, F. Valverde (2016) APPLYING ROLE-PLAYING GAME IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT SUBJECTS, ICERI2016 Proceedings, pp. 3532-3538.