COMP SCI 7405 - Research Methods in Software Engineering and Computer Science

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

This course will prepare students for advanced research by examining how to plan, conduct and report on empirical investigations. The course will cover techniques applicable to each of the steps of a research project, including formulating research questions, theory building, data analysis (using both qualitative and quantitative methods), building evidence, assessing validity, and publishing. It will particularly focus on research involving software, developing statistical tools to measure software performance and the ways in which people interact with software tools.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMP SCI 7405
    Course Research Methods in Software Engineering and Computer Science
    Coordinating Unit School of Computer Science
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Prerequisites ELEC ENG 7057 (where applicable)
    Course Description This course will prepare students for advanced research by examining how to plan, conduct and report on empirical investigations. The course will cover techniques applicable to each of the steps of a research project, including formulating research questions, theory building, data analysis (using both qualitative and quantitative methods), building evidence, assessing validity, and publishing. It will particularly focus on research involving software, developing statistical tools to measure software performance and the ways in which people interact with software tools.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Nickolas Falkner

    Lecturers: Associate Professor Nick Falkner and Dr Christoph Treude.
    Course Timetable

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

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

     
    1 Understand and be able to explain and apply the philosophy of science as it applies to research methods
    2 Be able to explain principles of research design
    3 Be able to apply principles of research design for a variety of projects
    4 Understand and be able to explain research ethics and their implications
    5 Understand and be able to apply a range of techniques, including, but not limited to: qualitative methods, quantitative methods, survey methods, case studies, interviews
    6 Understand and be able to explain the important of data replication and the management of bias
    7 Be able to design and implement research studies that meet the above requirements
    8 Demonstrate the ability to produce written records of research work that are of a submittable standard
    9 Demonstrate the ability to critique and review work in order to identify where research methodological principles have been followed well or could be improved, including the written presentation of the review to a professional standard

     
    The above course learning outcomes are aligned with the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standard for the Professional Engineer.
    The course is designed to develop the following Elements of Competency: 1.1   1.2   1.3   1.4   1.5   1.6   2.1   2.2   2.3   2.4   3.1   3.2   3.3   3.4   3.5   

    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)
    1-9
    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
    5,7,9
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    2,4,9
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    3,5,7,9
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    4
    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, diffuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    7-9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    The course has no text books but readings will be provided throughout the course and may be accessed through the on-line teaching portal.
    Recommended Resources
    There are no recommended resources. 
    Online Learning
    All materials will be availabe from MyUni, myuni. adelaide.edu.au, Canvas Learning Management System. Online learning materials are likely to include podcasts, video recordings, electronic documents and on-line quizzes to verify knowledge. Students may also interact with the Mahara portfolio system as part of their coursework.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will require students to carry out pre-reading and, on occasion, prepare presentations prior to attending the face-to-face session time, one two-hour session every week. The face-to-face will consist of mini-lectures, group discussion, collaborative activities, presentation, and peer evaluation. It is essential that students are prepared before attending. While the face-to-face sessions may be recorded, the activities contained may not necessarily be captured by that system.
    Workload

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

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    Students will be expected to undertake 3-4 hours of reading and preparation each week, with one two-hour face-to-face session every week. Course assessment activities will take approximately 4 hours a week on average.

    As there is no examination, assessment activities and load will continue into Week 13 and possibly Week 14.
    Learning Activities Summary
    This course will prepare students for advanced research by examining how to plan, conduct and report on empirical investigations. The course will cover techniques applicable to each of the steps of a research project, including formulating research questions, theory building, data analysis (using both qualitative and quantitative methods), building evidence, assessing validity, and publishing. It will particularly focus on research involving software, developing statistical tools to measure software performance and the ways in which people interact with software tools.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Students should be the final year of an Honours undergraduate program, enrolled in an Honours or coursework Masters program or have recently started a PhD program. Students should, preferably, be starting their project work and be able to undertake this course in conjunction with the first 6-12 months of their project.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    The focus of this course is research and students will be undertaking small-group activities as part of the course.
  • 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
    There is no examination for this course. The assessment consists of written work, presentations, and small research projects.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Hurdle Requirement: If your overall mark for the course is greater than 44 F but, your marks for the short research paper are less than 40%, your overall mark for the course will be reduced to 44 F.
    Assessment Detail
    The detailed assessment breakdown is:
    1. Produce a short research paper. Written paper. 40%
    2. Critique a research paper. Written submission and presentation. 15%
    3. Construct and refine an appropriate methodology for a research question. Written submission. 15%
    4. Mini-research project: demonstrate the ability to produce designs for a range of specific methodologies and carry out the investigation. Written submission and presentation. 20%
    5. Presentation in class: 10% (Graded by lecturer and combined with peer evaluation. Two separate project-related presentations)
    Item 1 is a hurdle requirement for this course. Students must achieve at least 40% of the available mark for this component.

    CBOK Mapping:

    Research paper
    Abstraction: 3
    Design: 3
    Ethics: 3
    Professional expectations: 2
    Interpersonal communications: 3
    Understanding of ICT profession: 3
    Data & Information: 3
    Programming: 3
    Human factors: 3
    Systems development: 3
    Critique
    Ethics: 4
    Data & Information: 4
    Construct and refine methodology
    Abstraction: 3
    Design: 3
    Ethics: 3
    Professional expectations: 2
    Interpersonal communications: 3
    Understanding of ICT profession: 3
    Data & Information: 3
    Programming: 3
    Human factors: 3
    Systems development: 3
    Mini-research project
    Abstraction: 3
    Design: 3
    Ethics: 3
    Professional expectations: 2
    Interpersonal communications: 3
    Understanding of ICT profession: 3
    Data & Information: 3
    Programming: 3
    Human factors: 3
    Systems development: 3
    Presentation of a research paper
    Abstraction: 3
    Design: 3
    Professional expectations: 3
    Interpersonal communications: 3
    Understanding of ICT profession: 3
    Data & Information: 3
    Submission
    All work will be submitted through either the School of Computer Science's Web Submission Gateway, the LMS, or the Mahara Portfolio system. Each assignment will have clear instructions as to the submission mode and to the model of lateness management that is being employed.

    Traditional late penalties may not be used in this class although, if not otherwise stated, this is the model that will be used. Instead, when clearly identified on a submission, late submission may result in the loss of access to certain grading resources. (As always, documented reasons for lateness can be acceptable and we would then provide other opportunities as required.) For example, if work is not submitted in time to be distributed for peer review, the work will not receive a peer review mark. If the work is not delivered in time for detailed marking, then a simpler rubric will be employed that will have fewer opportuities to receive marks, once all other marking of submissions has completed and if time allows. If a student has not prepared for a presentation, then that grading opportunity is lost.

    Our goal is to provide the best feedback we can, as soon as possible, to the largest number of students. We wish to provide marks that clearly recognise each student's contribution but must balance this with our duty of care to all students and a principle of fairness.
    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.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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