Teaching Software Engineering using Abstraction through Modeling

Mohsen Dorodchi, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Nasrin Dehbozorgi, Kennesaw State University
Mohammadali Fallahian, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Seyedamin Pouriyeh, Kennesaw State University


Teaching software engineering (SWE) as a core computer science course (ACM, 2013) is a challenging task. The challenge lies in the emphasis on what a large-scale software means, implementing teamwork, and teaching abstraction in software design while simultaneously engaging students into reasonable coding tasks. The abstraction of the system design is perhaps the most critical and theoretical part of the course and requires early engagement of the students with the necessary topics followed by implementation of the abstract model consistently. Normally, students would take such courses in the undergraduate curriculum sequence after data structures and/or object-oriented design/programming. Therefore, they would be able to learn about systematic modeling of software as a system. In this work, we address how to facilitate the teaching of SWE by introducing abstract modeling. Furthermore, functional decomposition is reviewed as a critical component which in turn, requires understanding of how different tasks are accomplished by enterprise software. Combining such pieces with concepts of architecture and design patterns of software provides foundational knowledge for students to be able to navigate around enterprise software in the real world.