Designing a Virtual Client for Requirements Elicitation Interviews

  • Sourav DebnathEmail author
  • Paola SpoletiniEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12045)


[Context and motivation] Role-playing offer experiential learning through the simulation of real-world scenarios; for this reason, it is widely used in software engineering education. In Requirements Engineering, role-playing is a popular way to provide students hands-on experience with requirements elicitation interviews. [Problem] However, managing a role-playing activity to simulate requirements elicitation interviews in a class is time consuming, as it often requires pairing students with student assistants or fellow classmates who act as either customers or requirement analysts as well as creating and maintaining the interview schedules between the actors. To make the adoption of role-playing activities in a class feasible, there is a need to develop a solution to reduce instructors’ workload. [Principal ideas] To solve this problem we propose the use of VIrtual CustOmer (VICO), an intent-based, multimodal, conversational agent. VICO offers an interview experience comparable to talking to a human and provides a transcript of the interview annotated with the mistakes students made in it. The adoption of VICO will eliminate the need to schedule interviews as the students can interact with it in their free time. Moreover, the transcript of the interview allows students to evaluate their performance to refine and improve their interviewing skills. [Contribution] In this research preview, we show the architecture of VICO and how it can be developed using existing technologies, we provide an online rule-based initial prototype and show the practicality and applicability of this tool through an exploratory study.


Requirements elicitation interview Role-playing Requirements engineering education and training Intelligent agent 



The authors thank Kim Hertz for her support in the enrollment of the participants that guaranteed that the authors were blind with respect to the participants’ assigned group, the graduate and undergraduate research assistants in the Tiresias Lab for beta testing V0, and all the participants for their time. This work was partially supported by the National Science Foundation under grant CCF-1718377.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kennesaw State UniversityMariettaUSA

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