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Experience management wikis for reflective practice in software capstone projects

: Ras, Eric; Carbon, Ralf; Decker, Björn; Rech, Jörg


IEEE transactions on education 50 (2007), Nr.4, S.312-320
ISSN: 0018-9359
Fraunhofer IESE ()
experience management; knowledge-based system; open source software; OSS; reflection; Software Organization Platform (SOP); software engineering; capstone project; learning from experience; practical experience

Software engineering curriculum guidelines state that students should practice methods, techniques, and tools. A capstone project is one possibility to address this aim. A capstone project helps the students to increase their problem solving competencies, improve their social skills (e.g., communication skills), and gather practical experience. A crux of such projects is that students perform "reflective" practice in order to learn from their experiences. The authors believe that experience gathering and reuse are effective techniques to stimulate reflective activities. An adapted free- and open-source Wiki-based system called software organization platform (SOP) is used to support students in managing their observations and experiences. The system can be used for experience exchange within the team and for experience reuse in forthcoming projects. The results of a case study show that standard Wiki functions improve communication and information sharing by means of explicit observation and experience documentation. A total of 183 documented observations and experiences at the end of the project provide a measure for the amount of reflection students have had during the capstone project. Still, the advantages of using Wikis will decrease when no technical adaptations of the Wiki to the learning objectives and to the software engineering tasks are made. Limitations of the case study, future evaluation steps, and planned developments of SOP will be provided in this paper.