A Perspective from Industry about Most Important and Influential Topics in Software Development Education

Posted on April 6, 2011


Here is the summary of a survey by Lethbridge et al in late 1990’s about Most Important and Influential Topics in Software Development Education.

Lethbridge [1-3] surveyed approximately 200 practicing software engineers and managers. The respondents had degrees in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, information systems, software engineering, and other engineering disciplines. They represented a broad cross-section of the industry, and developed software for management information systems, data processing, consumer or mass market software, real-time systems, and other application software.    They were asked to rate  educational topics on the basis of four criteria:  (Q1) how much they had learned about it in their formal education, (Q2) how much they know now about it, (Q3) how important the topic has been in their career, and (Q4) how much influence the topic had on their overall thinking.

Lethbridge included a total of seventy-five topics from thirteen subject categories in the survey.  The ten topics identified by them as most important in terms of career related utility of details of topic and also overall influence on thinking were:  specific programming languages, data structures, software design and patterns, software architecture, requirements gathering and  analysis, HCI/user interfaces, object-oriented concepts and technology, ethics and professionalism, and analysis and design methods.

In terms of the perceived gap between Q3 and Q4 compared to Q1, out of the thirteen subject categories, the respondents felt most serious deficiencies in the three categories of software engineering process, humanities and skills, and software design core.  

Their report shows that five out of the thirteen subject categories did not contribute even a single topic to the list of twenty-five most important and influential topics, while these categories were felt by the respondents to be over emphasized in the curriculum. These subject categories are theoretical computer science, mathematical topics in computer science, other hardware topics, general mathematics, and basic science.

What is your view wrt the current and emerging requirements of software industry (in general or wrt to specific verticals). 


[1] Timothy C. Lethbridge, The relevance of software education: A survey and some recommendations, Annals of Software Engineering, Springer Netherlands, pp 91-110,  March, 1998.       

[2] Timothy C. Lethbridge, A survey of the relevance of computer science and software engineering education, . Proceedings of 11th Conference on Software Engineering Education, IEEE, pp 56-66,  1998.          

[3] Timothy C. Lethbridge, What knowledge is important to a software professional?, Computer, IEEE, pp 44-50, 2000.


[5]  Some important reports on Computing Curriculum

[6]  Software Development Education: Breadth Courses for Developing Domain Competence and Systems Thinking

[7]  Software Developers’ Desired Competencies: A Comprehensive Distilled View


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