Design, Develop, Create

Monday, 15 February 2016

Exercise: NATO conference proceedings

Lecture time: 1h15'

Objectives (5') - S1-S2 

To produce and present a critical analysis
To conduct independent research
To experience and reflect on group work

Transition (5')

Identify groups
Provide readings

Group work starts (20') - S3 

  • Critically evaluate one of the articles provided.
  • Preparing a group review (without visual props). 
  • 20' to read and prepare of which 5' quiet time.
Without giving too much guidance up front simply ask the students to spend 20 mins critically evaluating their article and then each group can present their critique for a maximum of 2 mins (without powerpoint) to the rest of the class. After all of the presentations there should then be approximately 15 mins for the lecturer to provide some feedback based on the key touch-points.

Presentation delivery (30')
10x 2-minute presentations followed by one quick Q&A on the subject matter


Document 1: From Naur & Randell "NATO Conference on Software Engineering," 1968 (link)
  1. Group Discussion: User Requirements (pp 40-43)
  2. Group Discussion: The Nature of Software Engineering (pp 19-23)
  3. Group Discussion: Software Engineering Management and Methodology (pp 24-30)
  4. Group Discussion: Design and Production in Software Engineering (pp 31-32)
  5. Keynote Speech, by A. J. Perlis (pp 135-137)
  6. S. Gill: Thoughts on the sequence of writing software (186-187)

Document 2: From Randell & Buxton "Software Engineering Techniques; NATO Conference Proceedings," 1969 (link)
  1. Group Discussion: Case Histories; A Survey (pp 41-42)
  2. Group Discussion: Apollo Programming Support (pp 43-47)
  3. Group Discussion: The Electronic Switching System (pp 48-50)
  4. Group Discussion: Software Engineering Education (pp 61-66)
  5. R. M. Needham: Software engineering techniques and operating system design and production (pp 111-113)
  6. R. M. Needham and J. D. Aron: Software engineering and computer science (pp 113-114)
  7. J. I. Schwartz: Analyzing large-scale system development (pp 122-136)

Thematic Discussion (10")
  • What can we take from these passages?
  • What were they concerned about in the 1960s?
  • Are old concerns still contemporary issues? Why?
  • What did they think would solve these problems? Based on what knowledge?
  • Was there agreement as to the problems? The solutions?
  • Is the work we do today and the ways we manage it essentially different or only accidentally different?
  • In what ways is the work then and now similar?

Class Discussion (10')

What is critical analysis?
  • Evaluating
  • Subjective
  • Persuasion
  • Evidence
  • Scientific
  • Political 
Did typical roles arise? What were they?
  • Manager
  • Timekeeper
  • Recorder/checker
  • Sceptic
  • Big boss
  • Lurker
  • Facilitator
Were roles assigned or volunteered for?
Did people change roles? Why?
Did each member have a voice, make an impact?

What was the dynamic (over time)?
  • Initial analysis
  • Independent research
  • Synthesis
  • Chaos
  • Lost in the desert
  • A cavalry charge
Did the group...
  • Present a brief and cogent piece? 
  • Add value - illustrate, relate etc?
  • Reflect and critically evaluate?
e.g. (t: critical analysis - 30s) / (t: synopsis + 30s) + insightful analysis + impactful conclusions.

Wrap up - S4 - S5 - S6 - S7 - S8 - S9 - S10

Further reading

A process for combining self-directed and group-based learning can be organised as follows. Note, groups should adapt and modify the steps to suit the round style and conditions. (Schwartz et al., 2001) 
  1. First encounter a problem ‘cold’, without doing any preparatory study in the area of the problem.
  2. Interact with each other to explore their existing knowledge as it relates to the problem.
  3. Form and test hypotheses about the underlying mechanisms that might account for the problem (up to their current levels of knowledge).
  4. Identify further knowledge gaps or learning needs for making progress with the problem.
  5. Undertake self-study between group meetings group to satisfy identified learning needs.
  6. Return to the group to integrate the newly gained knowledge and apply it to the problem.
  7. Repeat steps 3 to 6 as necessary.
  8. Reflect on the process and on the content that has been learnt.
The Seven Jump or Maastricht process offers a similar template for structuring small-group tutorial learning. (Grave et al., 1996)
  1. Clarify unknown terms or concepts in the problem description.
  2. Define the problem(s). List the phenomena or events to be explained.
  3. Analyse the problem(s). 
    • Step 1. Brainstorm. Try to produce as many different explanations for the phenomena as you [can] think of. Use prior knowledge and common sense.
    • Step 2. Discuss. Criticize the explanations proposed and try to produce a coherent description of the processes that, according to what you think, underlie the phenomena or events.
  4. Formulate learning issues for self-directed learning.
  5. Fill the gaps in your knowledge through self-study.
  6. Share your findings with your group and try to integrate the knowledge acquired into a comprehensive explanation for the phenomena or events. Check whether you know enough.
Alternatively the MacMaster ‘triple jump’ represents three main stages for student-driven problem investigation: initial analysis, independent research, and synthesis. Each stage consists of a series of activities (not necessarily taking place in sequence).
  1. Initial analysis: identify problems, explore extant knowledge, hypothesise, identify knowledge gaps
  2. Independent research: research knowledge gaps
  3. Synthesis: present findings – relating them to the problem(s), integrate learning from others, generate a synthesis, self-assessment of learning process, repeat ‘triple jump’ if needed.


  • GRAVE, W. S., BOSHUIZEN, H. P. A. & SCHMIDT, H. G. (1996) Problem based learning: Cognitive and metacognitive processes during problem analysis. Instructional Science, 24, 321-341.
  • SCHWARTZ, P., MENNIN, S. & WEBB, G. (Eds.) (2001) Problem-Based Learning: Case studies, experience and practice, London, Routledge.