Investigating Reflection in Undergraduate Software Development Teams: An Analysis of Online Chat Transcripts
Metacognition is widely acknowledged as a key soft skill in collaborative software development. The ability to plan, monitor, and reflect on cognitive and team processes is crucial to the efficient and effective functioning of a software team. To explore students’ use of reflection–one aspect of metacognition–in undergraduate team software projects, we analyzed the online chat channels of teams participating in agile software development projects in two undergraduate courses that took place exclusively online (n = 23 teams, 117 students, and 4,915 chat messages). Teams’ online chats were dominated by discussions of work completed and to be done; just two percent of all chat messages showed evidence of reflection. A follow-up analysis of chat vignettes centered around reflection messages (n = 63) indicates that three-fourths of the those messages were prompted by a course requirement; just 14% arose organically within the context of teams’ ongoing project work. Based on our findings, we identify opportunities for computing educators to increase, through pedagogical and technological interventions, teams’ use of reflection in team software projects.