Integrating GitLab Metrics into Coursework Consultation Sessions in a Software Engineering Course

Sukru Eraslan, Kamilla Kopec-Harding, Caroline Jay, Suzanne Embury, Robert Haines, Julio Cesar Cortes Rios, Peter Crowther

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Abstract

Software developers use version control systems for collaborative coding. These systems are integrated into several software development platforms (including GitLab and GitHub) which support additional software engineering functionalities. Using these platforms in an educational context allows students to gain skills relevant to industry, whilst providing a means of keeping track of their activities. In this paper, we investigate the effect of presenting teams of students with GitLab metrics about their performance at coursework consultation sessions (checkpoint sessions), with a particular focus on the number of issues assigned and completed, and the number of commits made to the repository. A comparative analysis of project marks in two consecutive academic years indicates that these checkpoint sessions may lead to better student outcomes. An interview study with students and teaching assistants identified viewing the GitLab metrics in the checkpoints as an opportunity to see the relative contributions of team members and address resulting issues, and as a catalyst for improving engagement with the team project. The study also identified drawbacks of using the metrics too simplistically, and suggested that it was important to consider the quality and amount of written code, as well as the number of times someone committed to the repository.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Systems and Software
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • software engineering education
  • undergraduate education
  • collaborative software development
  • version control system
  • Git

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