A Study on the Education Quality Assurance System for Master of Software Engineering

Chapter
Part of the Progress in IS book series (PROIS)

Abstract

Quality is the lifeline of the education of Master of software engineering. In this paper, the quality problems in education of Master of software engineering are introduced and discussed briefly. To meet the requirement from software industry, the competency of Master of software engineering is investigated and summarized. Then an education quality assurance system for Master of software engineering is proposed to solve the education quality problems and achieve the educational goals of competency achievement.

Keywords

Quality assurance Master of software engineering Competency Industrial practice 

1 Introduction

Since Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) and other 34 universities had been granted to establish national pilot schools of software by the National Ministry of Education and State Development Planning Commission in 2000, the education of Master of software engineering in China has been through 15 years. Great progress has been made and a large number of high level personnel of software engineering have been trained to meet the extremely increasing requirement from software industry [1]. However, some quality problems have also arisen in the education of Master of software engineering.
  • In some universities, the postgraduate course system of Master of software engineering has a much overlap with that of Master of computer science, technology or engineering. The course content, teaching methods and teachers are similar to each other. Their course system has no much characteristics of software engineering.

  • The quality of industrial practice is not high. In some universities, steady-going practice bases have not been established and no strict regulations have been set up to check and evaluate the quality of student’s industrial practice and the quality of bases’ running. Some students just take the industrial practice as practical experience before employment and no high quality of software development tasks have been accomplished.

  • In some universities, the quantity and quality of faculty and other supporting conditions cannot meet the rapid growth of the number of students.

  • The dissertations of Master of software engineering in some universities lack of engineering characteristics. On the other end of the scale, some dissertations are more like an engineering document but an academic thesis for a master degree.

  • The education of Master of software engineering in some universities lacks of international visions.

  • Some training units take the education of Master of software engineering as a way of creating income. Therefore, the quality control is lax during the educational sections such as the admission of students, course teaching and test, industrial practice, dissertation and giving degrees.

Quality is the lifeline of the education of Master of software engineering. To solve the problems mentioned above and assure the educational quality, an education quality assurance system for Master of software engineering is studied.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 investigates and summarizes the competency of Master of software engineering required from software industry. In Sect. 3, the education quality assurance system for Master of software engineering is proposed and Sect. 4 draws conclusions.

2 Competency of Master of Software Engineering

The achievement of educational goals is the aim of setting up an education quality assurance system for Master of software engineering. The competency requirements of high level personnel of software engineering have been investigated [2]. The respondents include technical and human resource directors from software enterprises, Masters of software engineering who have graduated and been worked in software industry, graduate student, teachers, educational administrators and specialists.

The competency of Master of software engineering required from software industry can be summarized as knowledge, skill, ability and other characteristics four aspects, as shown in Table 1 [3, 4, 5, 6].
Table 1

Competency indicators of Master of software engineering

Competency aspects

Indicators

Requirements

Knowledge

Breadth of software engineering knowledge

Over-all knowledge structure and the acquaintance of software engineering related professional knowledge.

Depth of software engineering knowledge

Mastery of knowledge of specialized application technologies or fields

General process of software engineering

Acquaintance of international and national norms and standards for software engineering

Professional skill

Advanced programming skill

Acquaintance of algorithm analysis, design and optimization, not only coding

Logical thinking capability

Capacity of correct and reasonable observation, comparison, analysis, synthesis, abstract, summarization, deduction and judgement

Engineering practice ability

Capacity for applying acquired knowledge, technologies, modern tools and equipments in software engineering practice

Abilities

Process capabilities

Communication and presentation skills

Oral and written communication and presentation skills for communication with other people

Ability of analysing and solving practical problems

Ability of correct analysing problems and difficulties encountered in software engineering practice, solving the problems and overcoming the difficulties using multiple methods through different ways

Team collaboration ability

Emphasis on teamwork, collaboration ability, playing his/her own part in team working, and improving the work efficiency of the whole team

Abiding professional ethics

Abiding professional ethics of software industry, honest and credible

Business and management ability

Abilities of engaging in external economic and business affairs and internally software project management

  

Leadership

Abilities of thinking all-sidedly, systematically and prospectively from the angle of leader, concerning about industry trends, determining the direction of enterprise development, finding a variety of ways of encouraging and coordinating people to take more efforts in achieving the global goals

Ability of Market development

Abilities of accurate judging of market trends, excavating the new demands of market, acquiring new customers and expand the product market

Adaptability

Abilities of dealing with the rapidly changing of new technologies and competitive environment, basically correct judging and responding to the emergencies

The consciousness abilities

International and social consciousness

Realisation the impact of international and social environment on software engineering, thinking software engineering problem under international and social backgrounds

Self-consciousness

Accurate understanding and evaluation of personal condition, behaviour and activities, Self-regulation of one’s thinking, feeling and behaviour

Consciousness and ability of lifelong learning

Having a strong thirst for new knowledge and technologies, ability of lifelong learning

Innovation consciousness and ability

Having innovation consciousness, thinking and ability

Service consciousness

Trying his/her best to meet the demand of customers

Other characteristics

Toughness

Being stoical under the pressure of work tasks and various difficulties

Dedication and responsibility

Having lofty ideals, driving ambitions, strong working enthusiasms and sense of responsibility and competition, being brave in exploring and developing

Achievement orientation

Working hard, hoping to accomplish the work tasks assigned by his/her superiors with flying colours, setting and achieving challenging personal and business targets by himself/herself, obtaining fulfilment in the process of success.

Paying attention to details

Paying attention to detail, striving constantly for excellence, being careful and scrupulous, checking his/her work to make sure the required accuracy and integrality have been achieved

The knowledge requirements are the very foundation of the competency of Master of software engineering, which include knowledge breadth and depth of software engineering, and the acquaintance of general process of software engineering.

The professional skill requirements are the professional technical assurance of the competency of Master of software engineering, which include advanced programming skill, logical thinking capability and engineering practice ability.

The abilities requirements include process capabilities and consciousness abilities. The former covers communication, collaboration, coordination, practical problems analysing and solving abilities, and leadership, professional ethics, business and management, market development and adaptability capacities. Consciousness abilities requirements assure good international and social consciousness, self-consciousness, service consciousness, consciousnesses and abilities of lifelong learning and innovation.

Other characteristics requirements are the personal characteristics assurance of high quality engineering and technical talent, which includes toughness, dedication and sense of responsibility, achievement orientation, and paying attention to details.

3 The Quality Assurance System for Master of Software Engineering

Base on the competency requirements summarized in Sect. 2, the quality assurance system for Master of software engineering is established. The quality assurance system includes educational goals setting, training scheme design, quality assurance of student source, quality assurance of faculty, assurance of supporting conditions, quality assurance of courses, quality assurance of industrial practice, quality assurance of dissertation, assurance of student development, quality evaluation and continual improvement, university-enterprise and international collaboration, and management system totally twelve sections. Among the sections, university-enterprise and international collaboration and management system run through the control process of the proposed educational quality assurance system, as shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1

Control process of the quality assurance system for Master of software engineering

Accurate educational goals setting are the foundation of education quality assurance for Master of software engineering and must meet the requirements of the development of software industry.

The training scheme of Master of software engineering must fully support the achievement of the educational goals.

There is no doubt that the high quality of student source has a marked impact on the quality of graduated students. Before 2014, the national pilot schools of software had been granted to recruit students through independent tests and many quality problems in education of Master of software engineering were caused by the lax quality of admission. From 2014, all candidates have to attend the Graduate Candidate Test for Master of Engineering and from 2016, all candidates have to attend the National Graduate Unified Entrance Examination in the category of part-time education.

The quality of faculty focuses on the ability and experience of engineering, not only on the professional titles and academic degrees.

Assurance of supporting conditions means the number of recruited students cannot exceed the capability of supporting conditions in a university. From the viewpoint of education administration department, an upper limit of the number of students is to be set according to the educational supporting conditions in a university.

To ensure the quality of postgraduate courses for Master of software engineering, the courses contents should be determined with the participation of specialists from software enterprise and abroad to maintain the courses characteristics of engineering and internationalization. At HIT, a certain number of courses were taught by lecturers from the front of software industry and abroad.

Steady-going industrial practice bases are the foundation of high quality of industrial practice. Furthermore, a series of strict regulations should be set up scientifically to manage and evaluate the quality of student’s industrial practice and the quality of the bases’ running.

Besides the general requirements for dissertation of Master degree, the dissertation of Master of software engineering should be based on the actual engineering projects with clear application backgrounds. And the dissertation is to be completed under the direction both of the university supervisor and the enterprise supervisor.

Student development here means the training and development of student’s process and consciousness abilities, and other characteristics in Table 1. The employment of students is also included in student development.

Quality evaluation should be done regularly for the aim of continual improvement. Continual improvement is not only a series of management documents, but also a set of mechanisms running well.

To ensure the characteristics of software engineering and internationalization, university-enterprise and international collaboration run through the entire control process of the proposed educational quality assurance system.

The management system in Fig. 1 means a series of regulations and mechanisms to ensure the high quality and well running of the other sections of the education quality assurance system.

4 Conclusions

With the boom of software industry, the education of Master of software engineering has also obtained a rapid development in China. At the same time, the quality problems in education of Master of software engineering have also caused the concern of the public and educational administrations. A suitable way to solve these problems is to establish a quality assurance system.

In this paper, the professional competency profile of the Master of software engineering have been investigated and summarized as the foundation of the quality assurance system. To achieve the goals of competency achievement, an education quality assurance system including twelve control sections is proposed. The preliminary running of the quality assurance system at the National Pilot School of Software at HIT has confirmed the validity of the proposed quality assurance system. Still, further and in-depth research, especially practical research needs to be done to improve the quality assurance system.

Notes

Acknowledgment

This research was supported by the National Supervisory Committee for Education of Master of Engineering under Grant No. 2014-ZDn-07, Shandong Provincial Department of Education under Grant No. SDYY14003, and Harbin Institute of Technology under Grant No. JGYJ-201325 and WH2013009.

References

  1. 1.
    XU Xiaofei, LI Haifeng, WANG Ling, GUO Weihua. The “MSE + X” Programme in Software Engineering at HIT-NPSS. Computer Education, 2010(1):32–35.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Miao Yuan, Liu Xuning. Research of competency model of Master of software engineering. Academic Degrees and Graduate Education. 2009(3): 56–59.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Carol L. Hoover and Mary Shaw. The Carnegie Mellon University Master of Software Engineering Specialization Tracks. Proceedings of the Ninth Conference on Software Engineering Education, April 21–24, 1996: 100–118.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Pyster A, Turner R, Henry D. et al. Master's Degrees in Software Engineering: An Analysis of 28 University Programs. IEEE Software. 2009, 26(5): 94–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sedelmaier Y. Landes D. Software engineering body of skills (SWEBOS). Proceedings of the IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), April 3–5, 2014:395–401.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Liem I, Asnar Y, Akbar, S. Reshaping Software Engineering Education towards 2020 Engineers. Proceedings of the IEEE 27th Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEE&T), April 23–25, 2014: 171–174Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer Science and TechnologyHarbin Institute of TechnologyHarbinChina

Personalised recommendations