SE-First: A New Approach to Software Engineering Education

Colin Maly, Suzette Person, Leen Kiat Soh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


In this Innovative Practice Full Paper, we note that the way software is developed has changed significantly in the past 50 years. Software developers today cannot just be good at writing code; they must also possess non-technical skills in order to work successfully within diverse teams and have an appreciation for the tools and processes needed to build and maintain complex systems. In this work, we describe a novel first-year Software Engineering-First (SE-First) curriculum that introduces students to the broader picture of software development while students learn fundamental computing concepts. To assess the effectiveness of our novel first-year curriculum, we compare students who completed the first-year software engineering curriculum with students who completed our traditional computer science curriculum. We assess student knowledge of computing concepts, and their self-efficacy. Initial results show that students who complete the first-year software engineering courses perform as well or better on the computing concepts test, they are more confident in their computing abilities and in the application of computing skills to their field, and they have a higher success rate in their first-year computing courses (i.e., fewer students drop the course and fewer students receive a D or F course grade) compared with students who complete the traditional first-year computing program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781665438513
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021 - Lincoln, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2021Oct 16 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • attitudes
  • computational thinking
  • curriculum
  • education
  • perceptions
  • software engineering
  • software engineering-first model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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