Software Engineering Education Beyond the Technical: A Systematic Literature Review

10/22/2019 ∙ by Wouter Groeneveld, et al. ∙ 0

Higher education provides a solid theoretical and practical, but mostly technical, background for the aspiring software developer. Research, however, has shown that graduates still fall short of the expectations of industry. These deficiencies are not limited to technical shortcomings. The ever changing landscape of 'lean' enterprise software development requires engineers to be equipped with abilities beyond the technical. How can higher education help students become great software developers in this context? As a first step towards answering this question, we present the results of a systematic literature review, focusing on noncognitive abilities, better known as 'soft skills'. Our results identify self-reflection, conflict resolution, communication, and teamwork as the top four taught skills. Internships and capstone projects require more attention as a teaching aspect to facilitate the learning of multiple skills, including creativity. Interdisciplinary teaching and group composition are other important factors that influence learning. By providing novel insights on relationships between noncognitive abilities and teaching aspects, this work contributes to the continuous improvement of software engineering curricula. These findings may also serve as a springboard for further investigation of certain undervalued skills.

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