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Date Submitted: 09/17/2012 08:29 AM

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What Knowledge

Is Important

to a Software


Efforts to develop licensing requirements, curricula, or training programs for

software professionals should consider the experience of the practitioners

who actually perform the work.

Timothy C.


University of



oftware engineering licensing bodies, universities designing curricula, companies

focusing on better training for their staff,

and the IEEE in its Software Engineering

Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) project are

all pursuing efforts to define the subject matter that

software professionals should know. Whereas most

groups are basing their decisions about the software

engineering curriculum on the opinions of experts in

the field, we were more interested in learning what

subject matter practitioners themselves actually find

most important in their work.

From May to October 1998, my colleagues and I

surveyed software professionals representing a wide

variety of industries, job functions, and countries to

learn which educational topics have proved most

important to them in their careers and to identify the

topics for which their education or current knowledge

could be improved. We used the responses to the 75

questions in our survey to develop three sets of data:

the importance of various topics taught in computer

science, software engineering, and computer engineering curricula, the emphasis educational institutions place on these topics, and what practitioners

believe they currently know about the topics.

Our survey reinforces current perceptions about the

importance of some topics, but it also highlights topics that are sometimes underemphasized or overemphasized. For example, the survey results indicate that

education programs emphasize mathematics, chemistry, and physics more than their importance to practitioners seems to warrant; furthermore, practitioners

tend to forget this material. On the other hand, there



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