Incorporating Learning by Doing into the Software Engineering Curriculum



This paper explores how to share and improve the integration of Learning by Doing into the academic curriculum in the context of two software engineering programmes from universities in China and the UK.

In recent years the use of software has permeated almost every aspect of the economy of developed countries, even in sectors that traditionally did not engage the use of computers or software. As a discipline software engineering holds great potential for the establishment of a successful and rewarding career for the individual as well as for enhancing the competitiveness and progress of the country as a whole. In order to remain competitive we must educate sufficient numbers of students with the competencies required to be able to fill the positions needed in the economy. In addition, the software engineering workforce is increasingly becoming a global one. It is therefore of mutual benefit to understand and incorporate the best ideas of educating software engineers from all over the world. In China the reform of undergraduate engineering education has received much attention in recent years. 

In order for students to not only recognize the sometimes complex concepts of software engineering but also to enable them to fully comprehend and thus be able to actively apply these students need to be given sufficient opportunity to practically explore and experiment with the concepts while they are studying. The importance of Learning by Doing has been recognized in China as well as in the West. For example, the Conceiving—Designing— Implementing—Operating (CDIO) framework, which emphasises the teaching of engineering fundamentals in the context of real‐world systems and products, is an integral part of the “Excellent Engineer Education Training Program" lead by the Chinese Ministry of Education. 

This paper outlines and compares the efforts undertaken by two software engineering programmes, the Software Engineering programme at Shenyang Institute of Engineering in Shenyang, China and the BSc (Hons) Software Development for Business at Glasgow Caledonian University in Glasgow, UK. A comparison of both programmes of study shows that both programmes recognise the significance of Learning by Doing and have undertaken steps to integrate it into the curriculum. This paper makes recommendations for the integration of Learning by Doing into the curriculum. It also highlights the opportunities for collaboration in the process of Learning by Doing, the need for a new type of practice-based learning outcome and a framework to further formalise their integration into the curriculum. The findings are potentially applicable to other disciplines.


Software engineering education, Software engineering curriculum, Software engineering education reform, Learning by doing, The tech partnership


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