Teaching students to understand large programs by understanding historical context

Collin Mcmillan, Richard Oosterhoff

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Program comprehension is one of the most important challenges that new software developers face. Educators have sought to prepare students for this challenge through hands-on software development projects. These projects teach students effective software engineering principles. But, students often struggle to see the value of these principles in class projects, and therefore struggle to recognize them outside the classroom. The inevitable result is that these students have difficulty comprehending large programs after graduation. In this paper, we argue that a remedy to this problem is to teach the history of how software development principles were created. In this collaborative work with the Notre Dame Department of History, we present a course that blends a discussion of this history with a hands-on software project. We present a summary of the history covered in our course, and reflect on our teaching experience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCompanion the 36th International Conference - Hyderabad, India
Duration: 31 May 20147 Jun 2014


ConferenceCompanion the 36th International Conference

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Teaching students to understand large programs by understanding historical context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this