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Über dieses Buch

This book constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 48th Annual Conference of the Southern African Computer Lecturers' Association on ICT Education, SACLA 2019, held in Northern Drakensberg, South Africa, in July 2019.

The 16 revised full papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected from 57 submissions. The papers are organized in following topical sections: computer programming education; system security education; software engineering education; education of post-graduate research-students; our students, our profession.



Computer Programming Education


Synthesis of Social Media Messages and Tweets as Feedback Medium in Introductory Programming

Social Media have been recognised as supportive tools in education for creating benefits that supplement students’ collaboration, class interactions, as well as communication between instructors and students. Active informal interaction and feedback between instructors and students outside class belong to the main reasons behind social media pedagogy. Despite the prevalence of traditional email methods of providing feedback to students, the literature shows that they do not check their emails as frequently as they check their social media accounts. In this paper we present the automatic generation of feedback messages and tweets with context-free grammars (CFG). Our system takes a class list of students and their mark sheets and automatically composes Twitter tweets concerning statistical ‘fun facts’ about programming problems, exercises, class performances, as well as private messages about individual student performances. A survey with 116 participating students showed that the majority of them would like to receive such notifications on social media rather than emails. Lecturers found our system promising, too.
Sonny Kabaso, Abejide Ade-Ibijola

Decoding Source Code Comprehension: Bottlenecks Experienced by Senior Computer Science Students

Source code comprehension (SCC) continues to be a challenge to undergraduate CS students. Understanding the mental processes that students follow while comprehending source code can be crucial in helping students to overcome related challenges. The ‘Decoding the Disciplines’ (DtDs) paradigm that is gaining popularity world-wide provides a process to help students to master the mental actions they need to be successful in a specific discipline. In focusing on the first DtDs step of identifying mental obstacles (“bottlenecks”), this paper describes a study aimed at uncovering the major SCC bottlenecks that senior CS students experienced. We followed an integrated methodological approach where data were collected by asking questions, observations, and artefact analysis. Thematic analysis of the collected data revealed a series of SCC difficulties specifically related to arrays, programming logic, and control structures. The identified difficulties, including findings from the literature as well as our own teaching experiences, were used to compile a usable list of SCC bottlenecks. By focusing on senior students (instead of first-year students), the identified SCC bottlenecks point to learning difficulties that need to be addressed in introductory CS courses.
Pakiso J. Khomokhoana, Liezel Nel

System Security Education


An Approach to Teaching Secure Programming in the .NET Environment

The security aspect of software applications is considered as the important aspect that can reflect the ability of a system to prevent data exposures and loss of information. For businesses that rely on software solutions to keep operations running, a failure of a software solution can stop production, interrupt processes, and may lead to data breaches and financial losses. Many software developers are not competent in secure programming. This leads to risks that are caused by vulnerabilities in the application code of software applications. Although various techniques for writing secure code are known, these techniques are rarely fundamental components of a computing curriculum. This paper proposes the teaching of secure programming through a step-by-step approach. Our approach includes the identification of application risks and secure coding practices as they relate to each other and to basic programming concepts. We specifically aim to guide educators on how to teach secure programming in the .Net environment.
Sifiso Bangani, Lynn Futcher, Johan van Niekerk

A Framework for Integrating Secure Coding Principles into Undergraduate Programming Curricula

The rise of the use of the internet has led to significant growth in software applications for conducting business, entertainment and socialising, which in turn has led to a higher rate of attacks on software applications. This problem has led to industry requiring software developers skilled in developing software in a secure manner. The problem that industry faces is that many software development graduates do not have the requisite knowledge in secure programming. Academia should thus address these needs of industry by integrating secure coding principles into undergraduate programming curricula. In South Africa, however, this is often not formally done. This paper suggests some secure coding principles that could be integrated into programming curricula, together with various integration approaches and related challenges. It presents a framework for integrating secure coding principles into undergraduate programming curricula to ensure the formal planning and ‘buy-in’ of academic staff at all levels. The purpose of the framework is to guide computing faculties about ‘what’ secure coding principles to teach and ‘where’ to teach them.
Sandile Ngwenya, Lynn Futcher

Developing a Digital Forensics Curriculum: Exploring Trends from 2007 to 2017

The young science of digital forensics has made great strides in the last decade, but so, too, has cyber crime. The growing complexity of cyber crime has necessitated that traditional forensics methods be updated to accommodate new technologies, and that further research is carried out to keep up with the rate of technological innovation. The main purpose of this paper is to determine how academic teaching and research can support the needs of the industry in investigating cyber crime. Current digital forensics curricula in higher education are discussed, followed by an analysis of academic research trends for this discipline for the years 2007 to 2017. We conclude by highlighting trends for which more research is required and which could possibly contribute towards shaping future teaching and learning of digital forensics in higher education.
Roshan Harneker, Adrie Stander

Software Engineering Education


Hackathons as a Formal Teaching Approach in Information Systems Capstone Courses

Hackathons are ‘hacking marathons’ in which participants collaboratively and rapidly prototype new applications over a 24–48 h period. The potential of hackathons as a strategy for stimulating interest in the CS fields is well known. Hackathons share many similarities with capstone courses, however their application as a formal teaching approach in the CS/IS curriculum is less prevalent. This paper describes the introduction of a curricular hackathon in a 3rd-year IS capstone course at a South African university. An exploratory case study was conducted to evaluate feedback from the participants and organizers. In the process, the students completed seven new applications which they had conceptualized during the course. They also learned something about new technologies and programming interfaces as well as they exhibited growth in personal and inter-personal competencies. Seven fundamental differences between curricular and traditional hackathons are highlighted. Suggestions for integrating hackathons into undergraduate CS/IS capstone courses are provided together with possible areas for further research.
Walter F. Uys

Modernizing the Introduction to Software Engineering Course

We describe the modernization of an undergraduate introductory course in software engineering that started in 2017–2018 (semester 2) offered at the University of Puerto Rico. We present the institutional setting, our underlying philosophy, and resources considered. We aimed at complementing informal descriptions in any phase with formal ones. We describe the revised course, discuss evaluations of the modernized course as held in two subsequent semesters, and outline options for future improvement.
Marko Schütz-Schmuck

Exercise Task Generation for UML Class/Object Diagrams, via Alloy Model Instance Finding

The Unified Modelling Language (UML) is the standard for designing and documenting object-oriented software systems. Its most frequent use is for static modelling in the form of class diagrams. A correlated concept is that of object diagrams. An object diagram may or may not adhere to a given class diagram, and the understanding of this connection is key to correctly using class diagrams in practice. We present an approach for automatic generation of verified, non-trivial, conceptually relevant examples and counterexamples of class/object diagram combinations, aimed at providing exercise tasks in a university course setting. The underlying technique is model instance finding using the Alloy specification language and analyser. We provide an implementation of our approach in an e-learning system.
Violet Kafa, Marcellus Siegburg, Janis Voigtländer

Education of Post-Graduate Research-Students


A Connectivist View of a Research Methodology Semantic Wiki

The use of virtual learning spaces for learning and teaching needs to be underpinned by a pedagogy that provides a basis for the approach used. Connectivism takes a networked view of knowledge; its characteristics and understanding of learning were investigated. Here, the structure and development of a research methodology semantic wiki are described, including how the contents of the wiki allowed for the exploration of the structures of various research methodologies. Positive evaluation of the wiki was obtained from our research students.
Colin Pilkington, Laurette Pretorius

Cohort Supervision: Towards a Sustainable Model for Distance Learning

In response to the challenge of increasing supervision capacity while at the same time also improving the supervision experience, we used a design science research approach to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of a cohort supervision model for master’s students in computing at an open-distance university. This paper describes the implementation of a cohort programme in 2018, the findings from data collected during a focus group with students and supervisors, students’ reflective evaluations at the end of the module, feedback from the supervisors, and our reflective notes. Our main theoretical contribution is the cohort model proposed for developing supervision capacity at master’s level. Our practical contribution is a method for a practical supervision model for master’s students based on the concepts of co-operative learning and conversational theory.
Judy van Biljon, Colin Pilkington, Ronell van der Merwe

Guidelines for Conducting Design Science Research in Information Systems

Information Systems (IS) as a discipline is still young and is continuously involved in building its own research knowledge base. Design Science Research (DSR) in IS is a research strategy for design that has emerged in the last 16 years. Junior IS researchers are often lost when they start with a project in DSR. We identified a need for a set of guidelines with supporting reference literature that can assist such novice adopters of DSR. We identified major themes relevant to DSR and proposed a set of six guidelines for the novice researcher supported with references summaries of seminal works from the IS DSR literature. We believe that someone new to the field can use these guidelines to prepare him/herself to embark on a DSR study.
Alta van der Merwe, Aurona Gerber, Hanlie Smuts

Our Students, Our Profession


Making Sense of Unstructured Data: An Experiential Learning Approach

The need for competent data scientists is recognised by industry practitioners worldwide. Currently tertiary education institutions focus on the teaching of concepts related to structured data (fixed format), for example in database management. However, the hidden value contained in unstructured data (no fixed format) motivated the need to introduce students to methods for working with these data sets. Therefore, an experiential learning approach was adopted to expose students to real-life unstructured data. Third year students were given an assignment whereby they could use any publicly available un-structured data set or an unstructured dataset supplied to them following a set methodology (CRISP-DM) to discover and describe the hidden meaning of the data. As part of the assignments students had to reflect on the process. Twenty student assignments were analysed in an attempt to identify the effectiveness of the experiential learning approach in the acquisition of skills pertaining to unstructured data. Our findings indicate that the experiential learning approach is successful in the teaching of the basic skills needed to work with unstructured data. We discuss the appropriateness of the prescribed methodology, the students’ performance, and lessons learnt. On the basis of these lessons we conclude with some recommendations for educating future data scientists.
Sunet Eybers, Marie J. Hattingh

Connecting Generation Z Information Systems Students to Technology Through the Task-Technology Fit Theory

This study investigated how an interactive e-resource could be used to increase students’ performance for a specific Information Systems assignment given. As academics we are struggling to find sources that really talk to ‘Generation Z’ in the way they prefer to learn. We wanted to determine if we can create such a resource to increase students’ performance. This study investigates the usefulness of a self-created e-textbook for Systems Analysis and Design through the task-technology fit theory lens. A quantitative data analysis was conducted on a group of undergraduate Information Systems students. A significant association between the characteristics of the tasks and the technology used to perform the specific task was found. A significant association between the students’ understanding of the work and improving their knowledge as well as their contributions to a team was also found. Generation Z relies heavily on peers for assistance even though literature says that their social skills are under-developed. As academics we need to understand the Generation Z, and how they prefer to study, and then create content and tools for them so that they can broaden their knowledge and become life-long learners. Higher education institutions should become more student-centered and less lecturer-centered.
Adriana A. Steyn, Carina de Villiers, Joyce Jordaan, Tshegofatso Pitso

Detecting Similarity in Multi-procedure Student Programs Using only Static Code Structure

Plagiarism is prevalent in most undergraduate programming courses, including those where more advanced programming is taught. Typical strategies used to avoid detection include changing variable names and adding empty spaces or comments to the code. Although these changes affect the visual components of the source code, the underlying structure of the code remains the same. This similarity in structure can indicate the presence of plagiarism.
A system has been developed to detect the similarity in the structure of student programs. The detection system works in two phases: The first phase parses the source code and creates a syntax tree, representing the syntactical structure of each of the programs, while the second takes as inputs two program syntax trees and applies various comparison algorithms to detect their similarity. The outcome of the comparison allows the system to report a result from one of four similarity categories: identical structure, isomorphic structure, containing many structural similarities, and containing few structural similarities. Empirical tests on small sample programs show that the prototype implementation is effective in detecting plagiarism in source code, although in some cases manual checking is needed to confirm the presence of plagiarism.
Karen Bradshaw, Vongai Chindeka

Enhancing Computer Students’ Academic Performance Through Explanatory Modeling

A key challenge facing nowadays universities is the growing attrition rate of computer studies students, attributed to poor academic performance. While extensive research has been conducted on how to enhance students’ performance in computer programming, fewer research investigates other computer courses, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper addresses this gap by describing experiments that revealed some of the factors that influence a student’s overall academic performance at university through explanatory modeling. Our results showed that students’ background in mathematics and their performance in the Introduction to Information Systems course were key in determining performance. Unexpectedly, prior computer skills or secondary school grades had less impact. The strategies identified for enhancing students’ performance include an emphasis on building students’ mathematics background, providing a stringent teaching approach to foundational computing courses, re-structuring of courses in the computer program, and linking courses across the curriculum. Thus, explanatory modeling creates an opportunity to adopt a proactive approach to enhancing the performance of computer studies students.
Leah Mutanu, Philip Machoka

The Use of Industry Advisory Boards at Higher Education Institutions in Southern Africa

An Industry Advisory Board (IAB) can provide useful feedback to academic schools or departments, relating to topics such as industry graduate requirements, IT trends, programme quality and curriculum development. Though the existing literature already provides general guidelines for the role and responsibilities, membership, composition and functioning of IABs, literature on the use of IABs specifically in southern Africa is limited, especially as far as best practices and perspectives for the use of IABs for Computer Science (CS), Information Systems (IS) or related IT departments (IT) are concerned. Hence, the question addressed in this paper is: How are IABs used by CS/IS/IT/ICT departments in higher education in Southern Africa? An IAB questionnaire was compiled and sent to the Heads of Departments (HODs) of 32 universities in southern Africa. Accordingly, feedback received from IABs could have a direct impact on the ICT curricula and could also assist ICT lecturers in their efforts to update relevant course contents in a continuously changing computing environment. This paper might also help academic CS/IS/IT/ICT departments to implement and maintain IABs and to follow the standards of best practice.
Estelle Taylor, Andre P. Calitz


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