S2Group@VU research awarded with 2 prizes at HICSS 2019

22 Mar 2019

The paper “DecidArch: Playing Cards as Software Architects”, originating from a collaboration of the S2Group with international academic and industrial partners, was awarded with two distinct prizes at the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2019).

The research presents a novel educational game conceived to train students and practitioners in concepts related to software architecture and decision making. The game is currently used as an interactive session of the course “Software Architecture”, taught at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Out of over 780 papers presented at HICCS within 11 different research tracks, the S2Group study was awarded with the “Best Paper award” of the Software Education and Training track.
Additionally, the paper was awarded as one of the five “ISSIP-IBM-CBA Student Paper Award for Best Industry Studies Paper” of the 52nd edition of HICSS.

The two prizes were adjudicated independently by two distinct committees.

Abstract: Teaching software architecture is a challenge because of the difficulty to expose students to actual meaningful design situations. Games can provide a useful illustration of the design decision making process, and teach students the power of team interaction for making sound decisions. We introduce a game –DecidArch– developed toachieve three learning objectives: (1) create awareness about the rationale involved in design decision making, (2) enable appreciation of the reasoning behind candidate design decisions proposed by others, and (3) create awareness about interdependencies between design decisions. The game has been played by 22 groups with a total of 83 players, all of them students of the VU software architecture course. We present some of the lessons learned, both from our observation and through participant survey. We conclude that the game well supports our three learning objectives, and we identify several improvement points for future game editions.