An Instructional Tool to Foster Creativity in the Software Engineering Process

Rosanne Gamble Investigator)
Sandip Sen (Co-Principal Investigator)
Corrie Pogson (Co-Principal Investigator)

University of Tulsa
800 S. Tucker Drive
Tulsa, OK 74104 918/631-3312


Curriculum standards for Computer Science (CS) education typically lack creative approaches to Software Engineering, focusing on technological solutions rather than innovative design. Software Engineering is a highly creative endeavor that challenges CS student abilities to establish an innovative vision and to craft an outstanding product. Accountability for and contribution to creative initiatives are not part of grading methods in typical Software Engineering course. This project develops a collaborative framework that encourages and captures the creative discourse of a software project team as they form a vision, acquire useful technology, and implement a non-trivial product to satisfy customer requirements using the definition and analysis of an idea network. Generating and manipulating the network based on ideas as the core creative concept will provide both a visual feedback and a peer response to the creative discourse needed within the software development process. Reinforcement learning techniques are adapted for generating incremental rewards during software development to motivate, recognize, and require creativity, using the idea network as a communication and exploration medium. Real life situations often require learning from environmental feedback or reinforcements, with or without the presence of knowledgeable supervisors who can prescribe the best course of action. This project develops an approach to encouraging and rewarding creativity in a collaborative process that will be applicable to a broad range of collaborative and learning environments.