COMP SCI 4023 - Software Process Improvement

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2016

This course is a guided study of software process grounded by practical personal experience. All software engineering is based on one or more processes that guide how software is developed with particular time, cost or quality goals. Process improvement aims to learn from current practice and objectively assess potential improvements. This will be explored by practicing a simplified form of the Personal Software Process and studying a number of process related topics drawn from: the goal question metric paradigm; appropriate automation; configuration management; project tracking and control; quality assurance; cost of quality; continuous integration; DevOps; software distribution; Infrastructure, Platform and Software as a Service; leveraging social media and the internet.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 4023
    Course Software Process Improvement
    Coordinating Unit Computer Science
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 5 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment exam and/or assignments
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Alfred Fred Brown

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    The objectives of this course are:

    • To introduce students to the Software Engineering Institute's Personal Software Process, PSP, and
    • To help students reflect on their own software development process.

    At the end of the course students should be able to,

    1. articulate a critical view of the Personal Software Process,
    2. articulate a critical view of their own software development process,
    3. write essays following the structure of a scientific paper and
    4. apply the PSP to their work.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    A Self-Improvement Process for Software Engineers, Watts S. Humphrey, Addison-Wesley, 2005, ISBN 0321305493.
    Online Learning

    Web page


    • We will be using the Computer Science Moodle forums.
    • A link to the forums is available on the course website.
    • All general questions relating to the course and its content must be posted to the forums.
    • Any changes to the assessment requirements will be posted to the forums.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The background material is presented using lectures and is reinforced by the programming assignments and essays.

    The key learning takes place by practicing the major components of the Personal Software Process through the programming assignments. Each programming assignment requires all previous assignments to have been completed correctly or the PSP cannot be practised appropriately.

    Personal planning and time management are integral to the PSP and will be practised by the strict delivery of assignments on time and in the correct order.

    The essays provide opportunities to research issues relevant to the practical application of the PSP and other software process improvement tools. They also require reflection on the significance of these tools and how the practical impact they can have.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The time commitment for a 3 unit course is 10 to 12 hours per week.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Lectures Topics

    • Introduction to the PSP
    • Process Measurement
    • Planning
    • The PROBE Technique
    • Quality Issues
    • Project Tracking
    • Software Design
    • PSP Review
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Component 1: Programming Assignments - 20%

    • Up to 10 programs - 2% each
    • Programs 1 to 10 are due by 11.59pm on Friday of weeks 1 to 10 respectively.
    • Hurdle requirement: 6 programs must be completed by 11.59pm on Friday of week 12.
    • CBOK* areas: Abstraction, design, programming, systems development.

    Component 2: Personal Process Review - 20%

    • Due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 13.
    • CBOK* areas: Professionalism, interpersonal communication, systems development.

    Component 3: Essays - 60%

    • Essay 1 - 10%
      Parts 1 and 2 are due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 3.
    • Essay 2 - 20%
      Part 1 is due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 5.
      Part 2 is due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 6.
    • Essay 3 - 30%
      Part 1 is due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 12.
      Part 2 is due by 11.59pm on Friday of week 13.
    • Hurdle requirement: must score 40% of the available marks for Essay 3.
    • CBOK* areas: Interpersonal communication, systems development.

    The programming assignments, essay 1 and essay 2 are formative, essay 3 and the process review are summative.

    *Details of the Australian Computer Society's Core Bode of Knowledge (CBOK) can be found in this document.

    Assessment Related Requirements
    Completion of Programming Assignments
    A programming assignment will not be considered to be complete until it has been assessed as acceptable by the course coordinator. A programming assignment will not be assessed as acceptable if there are any corrections required to be made or any previous programming assignments have not yet been accepted.

    Hurdle Requirements
    If one or more hurdle requirements are not achieved, the final mark for the course will be capped at 44 F.
    Assessment Detail
    Detailed descriptions of all assessments will be available on the course website.

    Submission of Work for Assessment

    • All assignments must be submitted using the Computer Science Web Submission System.
    • The process review and essays will be submitted to for plagiarism detection.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions will only be given in exceptional circumstances,

    • evidence must be supplied,
    • you must apply before the due date, and
    • extensions can only be granted by the course coordinator.

    Penalties for Late Submission of Programming Assignments
    If a programming assignment is completed:

    • on-time, it will score 2% of the overall mark for the course, or
    • late but by 11.59pm on Friday of week 12, it will score 1% of the overall mark for the course.

    When a programming assignment is completed late, the due date for the next programming assignment is 11.59pm on Friday of the next teaching week. The same number of weeks extension is then applied to all later programming assignments. Any programming assignment given a due date after week 12 will not be assessed and will be considered incomplete even if otherwise completed satisfactorily.

    Penalties for Late Submission of Other Work

    • The maximum mark that can be awarded will reduce by 25% for each day/part day late,
    • Marks in excess of the maximum that can be awarded are discarded.
    • Assignment work submitted 4 or more days late will receive 0 marks.
    On-time Mark 1 Day Late 2 Days Late 3 Days Late 4+ Days Late
    25% 25% 25% 25% 0
    50% 50% 50% 25% 0
    75% 75% 50% 25% 0
    100% 75% 50% 25% 0

    Provision of Feedback to Students
    Marks will not be automatically awarded by the School of Computer Science Web Submission System. However, after each assignment marks and feedback will be posted to the Web Submission System.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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