S2-IC1-1 - Towards Designing an Experience-based Course around Innovation Bootcamps — A Cohort Study

3. Research Full Paper
Orges Cico1 , Letizia Jaccheri1, Anh Nguyen-Duc2
1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology
2 University of Southeast Norway

Context: We have been teaching an experiential-based course X for first-year master students of the X University. In the last two years, we designed the course around a semester-long Innovation Bootcamp external activity. This kind of external activity helped to provide the students with a concrete learning outcome and foster startup formation within an experiential-based course. Thus, we wondered how an Innovation Bootcamp activity affects students' technical, soft and project management skills as well as their startup formation mindset. Objective: This year, we wanted to validate our course model and that the students' cohorts were getting what we declared. Method: We conducted a cohort study comprised of questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups on students' perceptions of different dimensions: soft skills challenges, technical challenges, project management challenges, startup formation motivations and challenges, and the involvement of other team members in startup formation.  In total, 46 students participated in the questionnaires, always ran before and after the Bootcamp activity. Specifically, 21 students participated in the first year and another 26 in the second year of our investigation. In total, we conducted 12 focus groups and 8 individual interviews with the cohorts participating in our study. We perform a statistical analysis of the questionnaire answers and thematic coding of the gathered qualitative data during interviews. The data sources used in our study are complementary to each other and help get a full understanding of the considered dimensions used to answer the research questions of our study. Results and findings: We find so far that the perception or challenges regarding soft and project management skills drop, while values regarding technical skills challenges do not vary during the course. Students have an increased motivation towards startup formation after close collaboration with external stakeholders only after developing their first Minimum Viable Product. Funding opportunities are deemed crucial in helping students foster the idea of startup formation. The involvement of existing team members is perceived as positive in most cases, but students do not exclude the possibility to collaborate with other future team members. Collaboration with stakeholders is continuously evolving, and the main role based on students’ reports that the stakeholders might cover is potential customers or future partners. Contribution: The overall outcomes of the study contribute to validating a sustainable model that allows future educators, researchers, and practitioners to adopt external activities in a Software Engineering focused experiential-based course.