IJSSH 2012 Vol.2(2): 105-111 ISSN:2010-3646
DOI: 10.7763/IJSSH.2012.V2.77

Problem Decomposition and Cooperative Learning: an Exploratory Study in Enhancing Software Engineering Projects

Tie Hui Hui and Irfan Naufal Umar

Abstract—Completing workable software within stipulated timeframe has always been a challenge for computing students. College educators teaching programming courses are facing difficulties to guide and monitor the students from the start of the software development cycle until the completion stage. Likewise, students find the software development process much more tedious, complicated and frustrating. Problem decomposition as chunking technique is used as abstract concept to break the programming scenarios into smaller manageable chunk in relation to fulfilling the system requirements. This paper presents an overview of the difficulties encountered, and a study on problem decomposition technique with cooperative learning to resolve such affliction. A total of 44 second year computing students were randomly assigned either to a group that received a combination of problem decomposition and cooperative learning (DCL), or to another group which received cooperative learning method (CL) in this 28-week treatment. The participants worked in a group of four, with a mix of students with high and low self-regulated learning levels. The post-assessment was administered to measure their software development performance that was based on self-programming appraisal, project performance and number of proposal revision. The results revealed that students in the DCL group performed significantly better than those in the CL group in both the self-programming performance and software project development. Also, the DCL group made fewer amendments to the project proposal than their counterparts. Thus, the problem decomposition technique incorporated into the “problem and analysis stages” within the system development cycle should be considered as an alternative strategy for effective way of teaching, learning and completing software engineering project.

Index Terms—Chunking technique, cooperative learning, problem decomposition, software development project.

H. H. Tie is with the Centre for Postgraduate Studies, SEGi College Penang, Malaysia, 43 Green Hall, 10200 Penang, Malaysia (e-mail: hhtie@segi.edu.my).
I. N. Umar is with the Centre for Instructional Technology & Multimedia, University Science Malaysia, 11800 USM, Penang, Malaysia (e-mail: irfan@usm.my).

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Cite: Tie Hui Hui and Irfan Naufal Umar, "Problem Decomposition and Cooperative Learning: an Exploratory Study in Enhancing Software Engineering Projects," International Journal of Social Science and Humanity vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 105-111, 2012.

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