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Electrical engineering -- Study and teaching (Higher), Computer engineering -- Study and teaching (Higher), Scrum (Computer software development), Project management -- Data processing


Teamwork and project management are essential skills for engineering students, as recognized in the proposed new ABET topic area 7. Our team of instructors exposes students to project management techniques at multiple levels within our undergraduate ECE program. By learning project management early and practicing it often, students improve their teamwork efficacy in projects, courses, and in their future careers. Scrum is a cyclical project management technique commonly used in high-tech industries. Scrum provides a framework that facilitates teamwork through an adaptable and incremental process. Our variant of scrum is tailored to students working on engineering projects in a higher-education environment. We intend to better understand student learning of project management and teamwork so that we can improve our curriculum.

We use scrum “artifacts” (schedules, user stories, kanban boards) as mechanisms for assessing team project management and use a rubric for evaluating the boards. Our initial observations of first-year students show that they need close guidance and supervision, such as through the use of templates and weekly kanban reviews. These interventions have resulted in marked improvement of student project management performance. One significant obstacle to implementation is the lack of assistants familiar with scrum. We intend to start a program that prepares upper-level undergraduate and graduate students to serve as team supervisors or scrum masters. We will report student self-assessment of the usefulness of scrum in their projects.

To assess the effectiveness of student teamwork, we use a CATME Peer Evaluation survey, which garners information about team member contributions and experiences through self and peer evaluation. The tool measures team member contributions within five areas using a behaviorally-anchored rating scale: contributing to the team’s work; interacting with teammates; keeping the team on track; expecting quality; and, having related knowledge, skills and abilities. These areas align with our objectives for teaching project management within undergraduate ECE courses. Not surprisingly, initial results from CATME assessment indicate that first-year teams demonstrate less cohesion and do not perform as well as senior teams. By administering a CATME assessment mid-way through the term, malfunctioning teams are identified so that the instructor can intervene. We will present data and our evaluation in the full paper. We will also report on the scrum-related curricula that we use in our classes. In our experience, modern tools paired with careful planning of student activities help develop effective student teams and successful implementation of scrum-based project management.


© 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation.

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