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Many schools do not begin to introduce college students to software engineering until they have had at least one semester of programming. Since software engineering is a large, complex, and abstract subject it is difficult to construct active learning exercises that build on the students’ elementary knowledge of programming and still teach basic software engineering principles. It is also the case that beginning students typically know how to construct small programs, but they have little experience with the techniques necessary to produce reliable and long-term maintainable modules. I have addressed these two concerns by defining a local standard (Montana Tech Method (MTM) Software Development Standard for Small Modules Template) that step-by-step directs students toward the construction of highly reliable small modules using well known, best-practices software engineering techniques. “Small module” is here defined as a coherent development task that can be unit tested, and can be car ried out by a single (or a pair of) software engineer(s) in at most a few weeks. The standard describes the process to be used and also provides a template for the top-level documentation. The instructional module’s sequence of mini-lectures and exercises associated with the use of this (and other) local standards are used throughout the course, which perforce covers more abstract software engineering material using traditional reading and writing assignments. The sequence of mini-lectures and hands-on assignments (many of which are done in small groups) constitutes an instructional module that can be used in any similar software engineering course.


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