7th International Conference on the Quality of Information and Communications Technology

Teaching ICT Quality

Foreword by the Chair

Stephen B. Seidman (Texas State University, USA)

Quality has played a critical role in software engineering since the earliest days of the discipline. Software quality is one of the ten knowledge areas in the IEEE Computer Society’s Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK). Its importance has led to the creation and adoption of many widely adopted standards, such as ISO-IEC 9126 and IEEE 730. Numerous software quality conferences bring researchers and industrial practitioners together to share experiences and results. Unsurprisingly, quality plays a similarly important role in the software engineering curriculum. The 2004 ACM/IEEE-CS software engineering curriculum recommendations include ten knowledge areas; software quality is one of the seven SE2004 areas that deal specifically with software engineering.

In other ICT disciplines, quality has tended to play a more implicit role. In recent years, however, quality has started to move to the foreground. For example, the ICT FDF foundation degree specification (UK, 2008) recognizes that ICT learning outcomes must include knowledge of quality standards. This reflects the role played by quality in the ICT job frameworks that have been developed in Europe during the past two decades.

This thematic track consists of four papers that describe ways in which quality is handled in current ICT university curricula. Three of the papers deal with software engineering education; the fourth discusses software quality issues in introductory programming courses.

The paper by Figueiredo et al. talks about the role played by software quality in the first undergraduate software engineering program offered at a Brazilian university. Since the program is explicitly based on international standards and curricula, it is not surprising that software quality plays a key role in this curriculum.

The conventional approach to teaching software engineering is very similar to what is found in other ICT disciplines (and across academia): a faculty member standing in front of a class of students, lecturing on the topics found in the course syllabus. This approach has come under serious challenge in recent years from pedagogical research. One particularly interesting alternative is problem-based learning (PBL), in which students are confronted with problems from practice that provide a stimulus to learning. The paper by Richardson and Delaney shows how PBL can be used to teach software quality to software engineering students.

Software engineering curricula often culminate in a capstone experience that confronts teams of students with a smaller version of an industrial-strength problem. Such experiences are commonly found in engineering curricula. The paper by Dupuis et al. describes how quality issues can be treated in a software engineering capstone course. Graduate students with significant industrial experience, but little if any project management experience, were assigned to undergraduate teams as quality experts. The paper also describes a more conventional approach to teaching software quality, in which students in a maintenance and testing course were asked to use quality assurance source analysis tools.

While “quality” is a familiar term in software engineering, it is not so common in other ICT disciplines. One way to strengthen the foundations of software quality for students in all ICT disciplines is to incorporate quality concepts into introductory ICT courses, and particularly into the first courses in programming. It is still far to common for students of computing to feel that if a program compiles it is of good quality. The paper by Pears addresses these issues. It surveys the literature on student learning in programming courses and proposes that educators focus more directly on quality issues.

Track Committee

Program Committee


Time Title Authors
14:00-14:45 Teaching Software Quality in an interdisciplinary course of Engineering Rejane Maria Figueiredo, Andre B. Sales, Luiz Carlos M. Ribeiro, Luiz Augusto Laranjeira and Adson Rocha (Universidade de Brasília)
14:45-15:30 Software Quality: From Theory to Practice Ita Richardson and Yvonne Delaney (University of Limerick)
15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-16:45 Experiments of adding to the experience that can be acquired from a software project course Robert Dupuis (Université du Québec à Montréal), Roger Champagne (École de technologie Supérieure), Alain April (École de technologie Supérieure) and Normand Séguin (Université du Québec à Montréal)
16:45-17:30 Conveying conceptions of quality through instruction Arnold Pears (Uppsala University)

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