Promoting shared responsibility to work in teams

Author(s): Merja Bauters and Petri Vesikivi

Affiliation(s): Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Date of publication: June 21, 2016

The Educational Problem

When a course has an authentic customer, there is a motivation to work on the shared objects for being able to provide something worth while for the customer. However, it still has been a problem for students to work as a team. The “team” may share tasks and work separately - as a group, not as a team. Student teams often have communication problems, despite agreeing on the communication channels and tools, or some members are not present enough. The shared objects that come from the project itself by the customer help but are not enough.

The Solution

Therefore, scrum method may be used in face to face meetings. It means to discuss, plan and estimate the teams’ work, with allocated time implemented in the course schedule. Scrum aims to support the management of the project process. It is used especially for an incremental cyclical process where self-organised teams review the hindrances/impediments, how to prevent/solve them, what is done, next steps and so forth. It should be kept short (15 min) and keep the focus. It is not a discussion time or a meeting. The scrum is held standing up. The aim is to be able to have small modules that can be implemented, e.g., within a week, thus it helps to break the project into manageable parts. In a typical software development project, the project team would have a scrum every day. In our course we settled for weekly scrums. There was two types of scrums every week: One for the teamwork and one to keep up with what other teams do. In addition, a joint communication channel Slack (see the description of Slack) between the teams and the customer was introduced. These were helpful but the practices still need to be refined. The scrums to keep up with other teams were suggested by the students to have more actual demonstrations of what the teams do, and what their designs and products are. This was felt to increase pressure and motivation to work on their own outcomes also. The team scrums need more facilitating from the teachers to have meaningful focus each time.

The Context

The solution is useful in any course with team work and outside customers, where real design and products are created.

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