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Software engineering (SE) educators have been advocating the use of non-conventional approaches for SE education since long. In this context, we conducted action-research to compare the effectiveness of a case study approach with conventional lecture based approach. We designed and taught a first course in SE, that involved case study approach as well as the traditional lecture based approach. We recorded and analyzed student's perception of learning over using well defined parameters that reconciled with cognitive, skills and metacognitive goals of SE education. Results corroborated that case study approach is more effective and interesting for learning SE than the lecture based approach. These results indicate that academia and industry should further explore learning-by-doing paradigm, specially the case studies. Benefits of approach include bridging of the industry- academia gap and creation of professionals who are well versed with theory and practice and have experienced the intricacies of real software development even before entering the industry. This paper provides empirical data to support that case study approach is very effective in SE education and hence useful for curriculum designers. This work is useful for SE educators and researchers as it describes methodology for rigorous scientific educational research.
Date of Conference: 3-5 July 2007