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 Research


Academic Research

My academic research focuses on identifying and amplifying non-technical skills in software engineering education, primarily focusing on creative problem solving skills. I also blog about the subject.

Below is an overview of every accepted paper that is related to this research. Most publications are in ACM SIGCSE-related conferences/journals because Computing Education is my field of research.

I am affiliated with KU Leuven’s Faculty of Engineering Technology in Diepenbeek, Belgium. Find out more about me in the about page.


Engaging Software Engineering Students in Grading:
The effects of peer assessment on self-evaluation, motivation, and study time 2020, published in Proceedings of the 48th SEFI Conference 2020 (to appear)

We explored self-evaluation, motivation, and study time of students in relation to peer assessment (RQ), as part of an ongoing project at our local faculty (again involving the Game Boy Advance - any excuse is good, right?).

Students seem to get much better at evaluating their own project on some, but not all, of the evaluation criteria after a peer assessment session, and students report in a follow-up survey that they are more motivated to work on their project.

Measured study time differences with and without peer grading


Soft Skills: What do Computing Program Syllabi Reveal About Non-Technical Expectations of Undergraduate Students? 2020, published in the ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, (287-293).

A portion of the DB visualization tool
Data and details: see paper webpage.

Co-authored with Brett Becker. Brett and I curated and analyzed a database of Computing syllabi full of non-technical courses to look for patterns in learning outcomes (RQ).

110 universities in Europe and 278 courses revealed skills categorized in project, humanities, business, communication, coaching, professional, seminar, and creativity. Again, the last group proved to only contain 1.4% of all courses!


Sparking Creativity with the Game Boy Advance 2020, published in the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, (1326-1326).

Our first exiting results of student motivation and creative problem solving using the GBA sprite engine (see below) were summarized in this poster. We used Amabile’s Creativity Model (motivation, creative skills, expertise) and did expert assessments.

But most of all, we just wanted to show off what kinds of games our students made during the first year. There’s a video available in the poster page. Data and details: see SIGCSE 2020 poster page.

Poster preview, click to enlarge


Non-cognitive abilities of exceptional software engineers:
a Delphi study 2020, published in the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, (1096-1102).

The Identified Skill Category Breakdown
Data and details: see paper webpage.

Co-authored with Hans Jacobs from Prato. We asked software engineering experts all over the world: “what do you think is a critical non-technical skill to excel as a developer? (RQ)” The result is a long list of skills such as systematically verify assumptions and validate results and be creative by approaching a problem from different angles.

It’s interesting to see that all three panel groups (technical experts, business experts, and academics) picked something else as the top skills. Problem solving is mentioned most often, perhaps unsurprisingly.


Software Engineering Education beyond the Technical:
A Systematic Literature Review 2019, published in Proceedings of the 47th SEFI Conference 2019: vol. 47, (1607-1622)

A first step towards identifying which non-technical skills are currently being taught in the field of software engineering education (RQ). During our literature analysis, we discovered that self-reflection, conflict resolution, communication and teamwork are the top four taught skills while skills such as creativity and empathy dangle at the bottom.

Internships and capstone projects seem to be underrepresented as teaching aspects to facilitate the learning of these skills. It’s also staggering to see so little papers mention creativity, especially in project development.

Found connections between skills and teaching aspects
Data and details: see paper webpage.


Curiosity-based Research

Besides my academic obligations, I love to find out how things work on anything that peaks my interest, ranging from technical computer-related subjects to bread baking, drawing, art, and philosophy. I call this research “curiosity-based", and while the results might not be published in academic journals, they are still significant to me, and hopefully also to others.


Save Sourdough:
A Personal Quest For the Taste and Science of Bread Self-published and available at redzuurdesem.be

“Red Zuurdesem” (Save Sourdough) is a book I wrote in Dutch about sourdough bread, bundling 10 years of personal knowledge into 370 pages.

The book has been “baked” with love in which slowly fermented ideas from both practical and theoretical worlds merge with success into one deliciously smelling whole, generously sprinkled with tips and formulas to get started with baking yourself.

Read more and buy it at the Dutch website Red Zuurdesem.

The book cover.


A high-level object-oriented Gameboy Advance bitmap engine 2020, available at Github

An octahedron rendered in software using rasterization and culling.

A bitmap-based GBA 3D software engine written in C++. It’s framework is based on the older sprite-based engine, adding 3D matrices/vertices math to convert 3D coordinates to a 2D pane.

The GBA is obviously not made to do these kinds of things. I wanted to toy around with fixed-point math and learn about vertex shaders along the way.


A high-level object-oriented Gameboy Advance sprite engine 2018, available at Github

A sprite-based GBA engine written in C++, I originally created for students to learn object-oriented C++. The reason to choose the GBA was partially (self-)motivation and partially because… well, because I can!

We’ve successfully employed the engine to teach at our faculty, for over two years now. It seems to not only peak my own interest!

A video of student projects from year 2018-19.