Teaching Agile: Project Content vs. Method Content

Last year, we have started an initiative to better align teaching of agile methodologies at Chalmers | University of Gothenburg in various courses on the undergraduate and graduate level. During this work, we found that we are facing very similar challenges. Our discussions have lead to two publications, first at XP 2015 Conference where we received great feedback and encouragement and then at ICSE 2016 conference, where the paper attached to this post was very well received by the program board. We hope that you can join our discussion and our striving for excellence in agile methods education, either at ICSE next month in Austin, Texas or any time by contacting us directly.

This is joint work by Jan-Philipp Steghöfer, Eric Knauss, Emil Alégroth, Imed HammoudaHåkan Burden, and Morgan Ericsson.

Title: Teaching Agile – Addressing the Conflict Between Project Delivery and Application of Agile Methods

Abstract: This paper analyses the changes we have made in teaching agile methodologies, practices, and principles in four courses in order to address a specific dilemma: students need to apply agile methods in order to learn them, but when complementing our courses with applied content, we face the problem that students perceive the learning and application of agile methods as less important than delivering a finished product at the end of the course. This causes students to not apply theoretical process knowledge and therefore to not develop necessary skills associated with working with defined processes in the industry. Concretely, we report on our experience with teaching Scrum with Lego, removing formal grading requirements on the delivered product, emphasising process application in post-mortem reports, and organisational changes to support the process during supervision. These changes are analysed in the context of student satisfaction, teacher observations, and achievements of learning outcomes. We also provide an overview of the lessons learnt to help guide the design of courses on agile methodologies.

Pre-print: SKA+2016 Continue reading

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