Z. Stapić, A. Čižmešija, M. Mijač

University of Zagreb, Faculty of Organization and Informatics (CROATIA)
This paper reports on results of research on the alignment of Software Engineering course outcomes with the increasing industry requirements as well as to enable better matching students’ knowledge and skills for the ICT labor market. The gap between the industry demands and the skills and competences the students acquire during their bachelor’s/master’s degree is well known in software engineering field. One of the key challenges for narrowing this gap is to communicate industrial reality more effectively to students. Thus, in this paper we report the results of thematic analysis performed on the feedback obtained by a test group of students that were introduced to a novel approach in project-based learning. During the semester, this test group was set to work on projects defined by industry partners and had a close collaboration, infrastructural support and co-mentorship from the industry. By performing Braun-Clark’s six-step recursive framework in conducting thematic analysis we discovered 6 main themes: soft skills, hard skills, key supporting factors, preparation for workplace, level of satisfaction and suggestions for improvement related to the benefits of such approach and knowledge acquired. More than 100 references coded in fourteen identified codes/fragments were analyzed and extracted. Thematic analysis was driven by two specific research questions related to experiences and level of satisfaction with industry-collaboration and learning outcomes and to suggestions for improvements in software engineering teaching methods. The results are aligned with our previous research which identified that students are motivated to learn those technologies which are used in industry practice and that will increase their work-readiness skills because they will better understand requirements from industry, their problem solving skills and creativity will be set and applied on real project.