The paper titled “Balancing between Creativity and Efficiency in Software Engineering Project Courses” by Ruoqing (Sunny) Wang, Snezhina Milusheva, and Stephan Krusche was presented at the 29th Asia-Pacific Software Engineering Conference in December. The proceedings are now published on IEEE Xplore. You can already read the preprint here.
Abstract—Practical software engineering courses incorporate industrial clients to present a more realistic environment for the students. Clients introduce problem statements to students in the predevelopment phase. These documents describe the project’s vision, scope, requirements, and acceptance criteria. An unreasonable trade-off between efficiency and creativity can lead to unfulfilled client expectations or very constrained creative space for students. In problem statements, a good balance between freedom and efficiency helps foster such a creative-friendly environment that facilitates creative thinking and innovative approaches. This paper describes a case study in a software engineering project course among 17 projects (with over 100 students) in the past two semesters with real industrial clients. We develop criteria to classify problem statements into three main types. Innovation and creativity are measured through self-evaluation surveys and project documentation. The findings show that a problem statement with a known problem, fewer than 15 requirements, and fewer than 30 constraint word occurrences has the highest potential to strike the balance to encourage creativity and achieve project success.