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Increasing student responsibility in design projects with agile methods
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Mechatronics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3699-5049
2013 (English)In: 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings, 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper attempts to investigate the potential of merging agile methods with student projects in higher engineering education. The context of this study consists of a number of capstone projects within two comparable courses in the subjects of mechatronics and embedded systems given at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. In the capstone project described here, students work in teams of about 10 students, over a period of about nine months. Six capstone projects are studied; three of these were organized according to scrum [1] and three according to more formal methods. The six projects involved in total 54 students. The six capstone projects were divided into two groups, following two different courses. Students of both courses took a course in project management, either prior to the capstone course or in parallel. One of the two project management courses emphasized agile methods, the other more formal methods. The student teams who followed the project management course in agile methods were encouraged to organize their teams and projects according to scrum. At the core of scrum is the notion of empowering the team to organize the tasks independently together with the idea of quick prototyping for fast customer feedback. Formal methods, in context, rely more heavily on documentation, planning and preparation. The hypothesis for this study is that delegating the responsibility of project organization to the student team would motivate the students to take a greater responsibility for both the project and their own learning, and, that this would promote increased student learning by way of motivating student responsibility. Students of the three scrum-teams took a large responsibility for organizational aspects; more focus on organizational issues, larger responsibility for activities related to the course, and in aspects and actions related to achieving the learning goals of the course. In comparison between the two categories of projects, it can be seen that the scrum-teams showed more signs of taking responsibility for achieving learning goals than in the nonscrum- Teams. While the non-scrum-teams showed a great dedication toward finalizing project results, the scrum-teams also showed dedication toward performing activities with the purpose of reaching a learning goal not directly necessary for the project results. Even if the learning achievements are hard to measure, the anecdotal evidence of increased responsibility for the learning process shows signs of increased learning related to the course goals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Engineering education, Project management, Students
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-133254ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84884319685OAI: diva2:660528
120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition; Atlanta, GA; United States; 23 June 2013 through 26 June 2013

QC 20131030

Available from: 2013-10-30 Created: 2013-10-29 Last updated: 2015-06-30Bibliographically approved

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