Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Deconstructing the Tower of Babel: a design method to improve empathy and teamwork competences of informatics students

  • Published:
International Journal of Technology and Design Education Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

The competence-based education recently launched in Spanish universities presents a set of abilities and skills that are difficult to teach to students in higher and more technologically-oriented grades. In this paper, a teaching intervention that is based on design methodologies is proposed, to upgrade the competitive capacities of computer engineering students. In particular, this intervention targets those aspects relating to working in multidisciplinary teams and to defining requirements based on the user’s empathy and knowledge. The main idea inspiring this technique is that the underlying challenge is a communication problem. As Brooks (1995) states in his book The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, even a project having all of the prerequisites for success (a clear mission, manpower, materials, time and adequate technology) could fail as a Tower of Babel. The proposed technique through mixed methods has been evaluated with students enrolled in different courses, confirming the repeatability and validity of this method from quantitative measurement, from observation of the results, and from ascertaining the value perceived by students and their attitudes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Acuña, S. T., Castro, J. W., & Juristo, N. (2012). A HCI technique for improving requirements elicitation. Information and Software Technology, 54(12), 1357–1375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Antunes, P., Xiao, L., & Pino, J. A. (2014). Assessing the impact of educational differences in HCI design practice. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 24(3), 317–335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Anzai, Y., & Simon, H. A. (1979). The theory of learning by doing. Psychological Review, 86(2), 124.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aoyama, M. (2005). Persona-and-scenario based requirements engineering for software embedded in digital consumer products. In Requirements engineering, proceedings. 13th IEEE international conference on requirements engineering (pp. 85–94). IEEE.

  • Basadur, M., & Hausdorf, P. A. (1996). Measuring divergent thinking attitudes related to creative problem solving and innovation management. Creativity Research Journal, 9(1), 21–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Batchelor, R., & Bobrowicz, A. (2014). Empathic and ethical design of technology. In C. Stephanidis & M. Antona (Eds.), Universal access in humancomputer interaction: Design and development methods for universal access (pp. 3–10). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bell, S. (2010). Project-based learning for the 21st century: Skills for the future. The Clearing House, 83(2), 39–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blanco, E., Pourroy, F., & Arikoglu, S. (2014). Role of personas and scenarios in creating shared understanding of functional requirements: An empirical study. In J. S. Gero (Ed.), Design Computing and Cognition’12 (pp. 61–78). Netherlands: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bologna Declaration. (1999). The European higher education area. Joint declaration of the European Ministers of Education, 19. Retrieved from http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/documents/MDC/BOLOGNA_DECLARATION1.pdf.

  • Borrego, M., Douglas, E. P., & Amelink, C. T. (2009). Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods in engineering education. Journal of Engineering Education, 98(1), 53–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, F. P, Jr. (1995). The mythical man-month, anniversary edition: Essays on software engineering. New York: Pearson Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chappell, C., Gonczi, A., & Hager, P. (1995). Competency-based education. In G. Foley (Ed.), Understanding adult education and training (pp. 175–187). Sydney: Allen & Unwin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Council of Europe. (1997). Convention on the recognition of qualifications concerning higher education in the European Region. Lisbon, 11.IV.1997. Retrieved from http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/165.htm.

  • Cross, N. (2004). Expertise in design: An overview. Design Studies, 25(5), 427–441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Curricula, C. (2001). Computer Science, Final Report, The joint task force on computing curricula. In IEEE computer society and association for computing machinery, IEEE computer society. Retrieved from http://www.acm.org/education/education/education/curric_vols/cc2001.pdf.

  • Da Silva, T. S., Martin, A., Maurer, F., & Silveira, M. S. (2011). User-centered design and agile methods: A systematic review. In AGILE Conference (pp. 77–86). doi: 10.1109/AGILE.2011.24.

  • Daly, S. R., Adams, R. S., & Bodner, G. M. (2012). What does it mean to design? A qualitative investigation of design professionals’ experiences. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(2), 187–219.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Downing, C. G. (2001). Essential non-technical skills for teaming. Journal of Engineering Education, 90(1), 113–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dym, C. L., Agogino, A. M., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., & Leifer, L. J. (2005). Engineering design thinking, teaching, and learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 103–120.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Faily, S., & Fléchais, I. (2010). Barry is not the weakest link: Eliciting secure system requirements with personas. In Proceedings of the 24th BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference (pp. 124–132). British Computer Society.

  • Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 57–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Floyd, I. R., Cameron Jones, M., & Twidale, M. B. (2008). Resolving incommensurable debates: A preliminary identification of persona kinds, attributes, and characteristics. Artifact, 2(1), 12–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fowler, T. C. (1990). Value analysis in design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frank, M., Lavy, I., & Elata, D. (2003). Implementing the project-based learning approach in an academic engineering course. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 13(3), 273–288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fruchter, R. (2001). Dimensions of teamwork education. International Journal of Engineering Education, 17(4/5), 426–430.

    Google Scholar 

  • Granollers, T., Oliva, M., García, R., & Gil, R. (2008). Project-based learning applied to a master in HCI. Magazine of Interaction Design & Architecture, 3, 59–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Guðjónsdóttir, R. & Lindquist, S. (2008). Personas and scenarios: Design tool or a communication device? In Proceedings of COOP’, Carry Le Rouet, France, (pp. 165–176).

  • Haikara, J. (2007). Usability in agile software development: extending the interaction design process with personas approach. In G. Concas, E. Damiani, M. Scotto & G. Succi (Eds.), Agile processes in software engineering and extreme programming (pp. 153–156). Berlin: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Klapwijk, R., & Van Doorn, F. (2015). Context mapping in primary design and technology education: a fruitful method to develop empathy for and insight in user needs. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 25(2), 151–167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleinsmann, M., & Valkenburg, R. (2008). Barriers and enablers for creating shared understanding in co-design projects. Design Studies, 29(4), 369–386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lim, C. S. C. (2010). Designing inclusive ICT products for older users: taking into account the technology generation effect. Journal of Engineering Design, 21(2–3), 189–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • López, J. M., Manchado, E., Casas, R., López-Forniés, I., & Blanco-Bascuas, T. (2013). Professional competences acquisition through interdisciplinary projects. In M. P. Sánchez & M. L. Sein-Echaluce (Eds.), II international conference on learning, innovation and competitiveness-CINAIC (pp. 385–390). Madrid: Fundación General de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

    Google Scholar 

  • Matthews, T., Judge, T., & Whittaker, S. (2012). How do designers and user experience professionals actually perceive and use personas? In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 1219–1228). New York: ACM.

  • Miaskiewicz, T., & Kozar, K. A. (2011). Personas and user-centered design: How can personas benefit product design processes? Design Studies, 32(5), 417–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, G., & Williams, L. (2006). Personas: moving beyond role-based requirements engineering. Technical Reports (TR-2006-24). North Carolina: Microsoft and North Carolina State University.

  • Morris, J., Mueller, J., & Jones, M. (2010). Tomorrow´s elders with disabilities: What the wireless industry needs to know. Journal of Engineering Design, 21(2–3), 131–146.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Newman, D. (2015). The process of design squiggle central office of design. Retrieved from http://v2.centralstory.com/about/squiggle/.

  • Nielsen, L. (2004). Engaging Personas and Narrative Scenarios, Vol. 17, PhD Series. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur.

  • Nielsen, L. (2007). How can Personas be useful for developers? Retrieved from http://personas.dk/?p=45.

  • Nielsen, L. Personas. (2013). In M. Soegaard & R. F. Dam (Eds.), The encyclopedia of human–computer interaction (2nd ed.). Aarhus: The Interaction Design Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Onarheim, B., & Friis-Olivarius, M. (2013). Applying the neuroscience of creativity to creativity training. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 7, 656. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Openideo (2011). 7 tips on better brainstorming. Retrieved from https://openideo.com/blog/seven-tips-on-better-brainstorming.

  • Platt, D. S. (2007). Why software sucks–and what you can do about it. Boston: Addison-Wesley Professional.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pruitt, J., & Grudin, J. (2003). Personas: practice and theory. In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on designing for user experiences (pp. 1–15). New York: ACM.

  • Randolph, G. (2004). Use-cases and personas: a case study in light-weight user interaction design for small development projects. Informing Science: International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, 7, 105–116.

    Google Scholar 

  • Razumnikova, O. M. (2013). Divergent versus convergent thinking. In E. G. Carayannis (Ed.), Encyclopedia of creativity, invention, innovation and entrepreneurship (pp. 546–552). New York: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Sancho-Thomas, P., Fuentes-Fernández, R., & Fernández-Manjón, B. (2009). Learning teamwork skills in university programming courses. Computers & Education, 53(2), 517–531.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sorbonne Joint Declaration (1998). Joint declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European higher education system. Paris, the Sorbonne. Retrieved from http://www.eees.es/pdf/Sorbona_EN.pdf.

  • Stoll, J., McColgin, D., Gregory, M., Crow, V., & Edwards, W. K. (2008). Adapting personas for use in security visualization design. In J. R. Goodall, G. Conti & K.-L. Ma VizSEC 2007 (pp. 39–52). Berlin: Springer.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Tulsi, P. K., & Poonia, M. P. (2015). Expectations of industry from technical graduates: Implications for curriculum and instructional processes. Journal of Engineering Education Transformations, Special Issue, 19–24. doi:10.16920/ijerit/2015/v0i0/59339.

  • Tuning Project (n.d.), Tuning methodology. In Tuning educational structures in europe. Retrieved from http://www.unideusto.org/tuningeu/tuning-methodology.html#outcomes.

  • Wikipedia (2015). European credit transfer and accumulation system. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Credit_Transfer_and_Accumulation_System.

  • Wilhelm, W. J., Logan, J., Smith, S. M., & Szul, L. F. (2002). Meeting the demand: Teaching “Soft” skills. Information analyses (070). Little Rock, Arkansas: Delta Pi Epsilon Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Winters, N., & Mor, Y. (2008). IDR: A participatory methodology for interdisciplinary design in technology enhanced learning. Computers & Education, 50(2), 579–600.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wormald, P. W. (2011). Positioning industrial design students to operate at the ‘fuzzy front end’: Investigating a new arena of university design education. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 21(4), 425–447.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Unizar (n.d). Official bachelor website from the University of Zaragoza. Retrieved from http://titulaciones.unizar.es/ing-informatica.

  • Zoltowski, C. B., Oakes, W. C., & Cardella, M. E. (2012). Students’ ways of experiencing human-centered design. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 28–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work has been partially supported by the Spanish Government (Project TIN2012-37826-C02-01).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Teresa Blanco.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Blanco, T., López-Forniés, I. & Zarazaga-Soria, F.J. Deconstructing the Tower of Babel: a design method to improve empathy and teamwork competences of informatics students. Int J Technol Des Educ 27, 307–328 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-015-9348-6

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-015-9348-6

Keywords

Navigation