S4-SP6-3 - How Does a Student-Centered Course on Communication and Professional Skills Impact Students in the Long Run?

2. Research-to-Practice Full Paper
Renate Motschnig1 , Michael Silber1, Valdemar Švabenský2
1 University of Vienna, Faculty of Computer Science
2 Masaryk University

Abstract—This Full Paper in the Research-To-Practice Category presents a long-term study about the effects of a student-centered course on communication and professional skills on students’ thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. The course is offered at a European university as part of a computer science master’s program. This paper shares the design and challenges of a longitudinal study that reaches ten years behind and employs a mixed-methods approach. Besides presenting and interpreting the findings, we shed light on which features tend to stay on students’ minds and impact their way of being and acting in society. Moreover, we suggest implications for the design and practice in comparable courses to maximize constructive, sustainable effects, such as improved active listening, presentation skills, and openness to other perspectives. These are essential (not only) for computer science professionals. Our findings suggest that the course provided significant learning for the vast majority of respondents, including aspects such as presenting while keeping the other side in mind, managing one’s stress, and becoming less shy to speak up. All in all, we aim to contribute an evidence-based source of motivation for instructors in technically focused curricula who hold a student-centered stance.