A Diagnostic Testing Framework for Threshold Concepts in Software Engineering

Project Description

This project will use diagnostic testing to identify and fill key gaps in student knowledge of threshold concepts. Diagnostic testing and later consolidating interventions have been shown in literature and practice as effective in increasing student grades, satisfaction, and engagement. A pilot study will focus on two linked courses - software development practice (SDP) and its successor software engineering (SE) offered at the School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences (SCMS). There are ongoing concerns about significant overlap between SDP and SE. Diagnostic testing will help identify student understanding of threshold concepts in these courses and we will develop interventions to bridge gaps in this understanding, decrease overlaps, and allow non-SCMS students (e.g. from the School of Engineering) to engage at the same level in these courses. A journal/conference paper reporting our findings will be submitted towards the end of 2014. We will also produce a generic diagnostic testing framework and associated research-informed guidelines for use within the whole University. Our framework will assist in curriculum mapping by identifying missing or repeated threshold concepts between linked courses, potentially reducing the number of courses offered and/or encouraging facilitators to offer more varied and content-rich.


Supported by AUT's Learning and Teaching Development Fund (LTDF).


Project leader – Dr. Roopak Sinha roopak.sinha@aut.ac.nz