Activity 3

AT5-3: Group project

One of the assignments that help students to reach higher levels of learning is individual or group projects. The intent behind a project is to put knowledge to work in a real-life professional problem [9], which cannot be performed in a two or three hours final exam. In the case of group projects, they also help students to improve their interpersonal and persuasive skills. In this sense, it is preferable for students to work in a group with others rather than their close friends in order to develop those skills [13]. Forming groups and promoting team building among them can be performed by using proper games or techniques such as the ones included in [14].
A good prompt is always necessary to make the assignment -project- more challenging and interesting [15]. As an example, see next the prompt designed for this project:

Among the learning outcomes for this course, you have to: use measurement units and scale types, follow a measurement technique, measure time and effort, and obtain the functional size of a small-well-documented set of simple functional requirements.

To help you reach these learning outcomes, your major task in this course is to work in a group project in which you will measure time, effort and functional size. For the measurement part of this project, you have to consider the following three key areas: preparation, execution, and report.

Preparation:
  • Download the data collection questionnaire for Development and Enhancement - COSMIC DCQ - available in the website of ISBSG (The International Software Benchmarking Standards Group Limited) www.isbsg.org/ISBSGnew.nsf/WebPages/286528C58F55415BCA257474001C7B48.
  • Become familiar with the seven sections of the questionnaire.
  • Read the questions in each of the sections and identify which of those you could answer based on the data you will collect.
  • Pay attention on how the following terms in the questionnaire are used: units, scales, measurement process, time, effort and functional size.
Execution:
  • Analyze the functional requirements and identify: the functional users, the triggering events, the functional processes, the data groups and the data movements.
  • Obtain the functional size of the software
  • Keep a record of the time spent in the project' activities
  • Calculate the total duration (time) and effort (person-months/hours/weeks) spent in the project
  • Fill the data collection questionnaire (from ISBSG) by answering the questions that you are able to answer.
Report:
  • Write an introduction of your project (no longer than one page).
  • Include one or two sheets with a table and graphics showing the time and effort spent in the project.
  • Include a sheet with the calculation of the functional size similar to the one used in class.
  • Write a reflection based on the results obtained by the group, in terms of the functional size of the software, the total time and effort spent in the project. The reflections should mention at least what the group did well and wrong, and what can be improved. Feel free to include other aspects that you may consider important for a good reflection.
  • Include an individual reflection -one page of length per group member- where each student states what his/her contribution in the project was and how this allowed his/her to reach the learning outcomes.
  • Use proper and clear language to write the report.
  • Look for references -if necessary-to support your conclusions.

Table:

Prompt for a project that includes functional size measurement

Aspects such as distribution of tasks and roles have to be handled carefully in a group project because students may divide themselves the tasks in such a way that they may learn little.  It is advisable to ask students to do peer-assessment and to write a short self-reflection about the project. Finally, based on the performance achieved by students, the teacher should provide in-person feedback (individually or group) or written comments to students. The feedback should give information about the project per se and the process followed by students. Directions of how to improve them (project, process) and clarifications of concepts and procedures that were not completely understood can be considered as effective feedback for students.