Counteracting sociocultural barriers in global software engineering using group activities

Affan Yasin, Rubia Fatima, Javed Ali Khan, Lin Liu, Raian Ali, Jianmin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In modern times, internationally organized teams face a number of coordination problems owing to their different physical operating locations. These challenges usually come in temporal, cultural, and linguistic forms. To resolve some of these issues, we need more coordination, teamwork, and shared understanding in the requirements engineering phase. Many approaches have been introduced to overcome these challenges associated with global software engineering (GSE). The objective of this research study is to introduce amateurs to GSE and improve their understanding of its associated challenges through an activity-based learning approach. Our method is primarily targeted toward students who already have theoretical knowledge on the topic but require first-hand experience with GSE. With the aforementioned motivation in mind, we propose, designe, and empirically evaluate two different activities that can help enhance awareness of GSE challenges. For each activity, we simulate an environment wherein participants are made to go through various constructed coordination challenges related to communication, time management, team mistrust, linguistic barriers, cultural barriers, and distribution of tasks. The effectiveness of our proposed activities, captured by the extent to which participants were able to deal with GSE challenges, was judged through various techniques including (i) observation, (ii) post activities survey questionnaire, and (iii) brainstorming and discussion. We show that the proposed activities were effective in helping students learn and further their understanding of GSE concepts. In particular, discussion sessions and survey questionnaire results reflect their ability to identify critical GSE challenges (specifically related to teams) in a simulated scenario.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Software: Evolution and Process
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • activity-based learning
  • global software development
  • global software engineering
  • human factor
  • software engineering education


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