Who does what? Work division and allocation strategies of computer science student teams

by   Anna van der Meulen, et al.

Collaboration skills are important for future software engineers. In computer science education, these skills are often practiced through group assignments, where students develop software collaboratively. The approach that students take in these assignments varies widely, but often involves a division of labour. It can then be argued whether collaboration still takes place. The discipline of computing education is especially interesting in this context, because some of its specific features (such as the variation in entry skill level and the use of source code repositories as collaboration platforms) are likely to influence the approach taken within groupwork. The aim of this research is to gain insight into the work division and allocation strategies applied by computer science students during group assignments. To this end, we interviewed twenty students of four universities. The thematic analysis shows that students tend to divide up the workload to enable working independently, with pair programming and code reviews being often employed. Motivated primarily by grade and efficiency factors, students choose and allocate tasks primarily based on their prior expertise and preferences. Based on our findings, we argue that the setup of group assignments can limit student motivation for practicing new software engineering skills, and that interventions are needed towards encouraging experimentation and learning.


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