Managing PSP Student Data

The Software Engineering Institute provides a PSP Instructor Support Tool which is a Microsoft Access database. That tool is used to:

  • Create charts of aggregated student data, to show to students as part of the learning experience
  • Collect class data in a format that can be sent to the Software Engineering Institute (as required by the PSP Instructor agreement you made with the SEI).

The Process Dashboard provides an automated way of loading student data into this SEI tool, as described below.

Obtaining the SEI’s PSP Instructor Support Tool

If you have been teaching the PSP for some time, you may already have an older copy of the SEI’s PSP Instructor Support Tool. However, the import of Process Dashboard data requires a newer version of the PSP Instructor Support Tool, released on or after October 29, 2011. If you are using an older version, you will need to obtain the most recent version from the SEI.

Getting the most recent tool from the SEI requires a complex series of steps, so they are listed here as a service to other PSP Instructors. These instructions are correct as of August 2015, but could change when the SEI publishes new material in the future. If the instructions below do not work for you, or if you find them too confusing to follow, contact the SEI and ask them for help.

  • Log in to the SEI Learning Portal
  • At the top of the screen, click on “Learning.”
  • In the Navigation menu on the left, click on “Courses.”
  • In the course list, find the course named “PSP Fundamentals 2012.06”. On that row, click the “View Info” button.
  • The course information for the course will be displayed. In the top-right corner of the page, click the attachment for “PSP Fundamentals Instructor resources”
  • This will download a file to your computer with a name like “{73136B4E-26F8-4E98-896A-B99AA3B9CC14}.zip”.
  • After the file downloads, open it. It will contain an EXE file inside. Run that EXE file.
  • The EXE file is self-extracting compressed archive. It will ask you for a location on your hard drive where files should be extracted. The directory that it suggests is not useful. Click the “…” button instead and select a directory on your computer where you would like to place the PSP Instructor Resources.
  • Click the Extract button. The files will be placed into the directory you specified, then the window will disappear.
  • Open My Computer and navigate to the directory you selected above. It should contain many instructor resources, such as handouts and grading checklists. The “Instructor support tool” subdirectory contains the SEI tool, along with a users guide for that tool.

If you have never used the SEI Instructor Support Tool, take some time to read the Users Guide that the SEI has created. For example, after you open the tool you will need to create a new PSP class and enter the names of all the students in that class. The instructions below assume that you have already completed those class setup steps.

Transferring Student Data into the SEI PSP Instructor Support Tool

When students finish an assignment, they will use the “C > Tools > Save Data Backup” feature in their Process Dashboard. This will package up their metrics data into a ZIP file, which they will send to you along with their other assignment materials.

To grade their assignment, you will drag that ZIP file onto the Process Dashboard Quick Launcher and view the forms and reports inside. As a PSP Instructor, you will have a special entry on the script menu that opens a Grading Helper:

When you select that option, the Grading Helper will appear in your web browser, displaying many helpful tools to assist with the grading process.

When you are done grading and you are ready to transfer their data into the SEI tool, click the “Export STUDATA” link which appears at the bottom of the left-hand navigation pane.

The very first time you click this “Export STUDATA” link, you will be asked for your preferences about how student data should be exported. Please enter the following preferences:

  • Select the “Export XML Data to File” option.
  • In the “Export to directory” field, enter the directory that contains your SEI PSP Instructor Support Tool database file.
  • Click the “Save” button to save these preferences.

You will only need to provide those settings once, then the dashboard will remember them indefinitely. (Normally you will not need to alter these settings again; but if necessary, you can change them by clicking the “Export options” link on the “Export STUDATA” page.) When grading future assignments, a single click on the “Export STUDATA” link will export data using these settings.

Now that the data is in an XML file, you can import it into the SEI tool. The SEI’s User Guide includes instructions for this process, but those instructions are missing a crucial step. For completeness, here are the steps to take, including the step that the SEI has overlooked:

  • Open the SEI Instructor Tool.
  • Open the “Student Status” form by selecting Student Status on the Switchboard.
  • Select the class containing the student using the “Instructor” dropdown.
  • Resize the “Maintain Student Status” window. Some versions of the SEI tool seem to have a layout bug; when this window first appears it may only contain a table of students. When you resize the window, a crucially important row of buttons will suddenly appear underneath that table. So until you resize this window, you may be baffled about how to import student data.
  • After resizing the window, you should see a button that reads “Update Student (Dashboard)” or “Update Student (XML)”. If you don’t see that button, you are using an older version of the SEI Instructor Support Tool and you need to obtain the new version.
  • Select the student record to be updated. You can do this by clicking anywhere on the row except on the name of the student. (Clicking the name of the student will bring up a manual data entry window that you do not want.)
  • Click on the button that reads “Update Student (Dashboard)” or “Update Student (XML)”. It will pop up a dialog box asking for the location of a student XML data file. (This is the file that you created by clicking the “Export STUDATA” hyperlink on the Grading Helper.)
    • This dialog box will not remember the last directory you used; it always defaults back to the directory that contains the SEI Instructor Support Tool database file. (That is why we recommend that you use that directory for your STUDATA exports.)
    • Select the XML file you just exported, and click OK.
  • If the student name in the Process Dashboard XML file matches the student name of the selected record or if you answer “OK” to the confirmation popup message box, the student data from the Process Dashboard XML file replaces the:
    • student’s assignment data in the tool,
    • student’s profile data in the tool.

All of the steps above seem complicated, but after you’ve done them once you will see that they are very quick and straightforward. After the initial setup, transferring data for a student will require one click in the dashboard’s Grading Helper, followed by a series of clicks in the SEI’s “Maintain Student Status” form.

Then, once data has been transferred into the SEI tool, you will be able to display class charts to the students and submit student data to the SEI.