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Assessing Scrum Project Management and Teamwork in Electrical and Computer Engineering Courses

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Branimir Pejcinovic Portland State University

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Branimir Pejcinovic received his Ph.D. degree from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is a Professor and former Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education at Portland State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering department. In this role he has led department-wide changes in curriculum with emphasis on project- and lab-based instruction and learning. His research interests are in the areas of engineering education, semiconductor device characterization, design and simulation, signal integrity and THz sensors. He is a member of IEEE and ASEE.

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Robert B. Bass Portland State University Orcid 16x16

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Robert Bass, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Portland State University. His research focuses on electrical power systems, particularly distributed utility assets and the overlaying control and communications architectures that link them together. Dr. Bass specializes in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on electric power, electromechanical energy conversion, distributed energy resources, control theory and power systems analysis.

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Phillip Wong Portland State University

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Phillip Wong received an M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1990. Since then, he has been with Portland State University, Oregon, USA, where he is currently the ECE Lab Coordinator and an instructor.

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Assessing teamwork and scrum project management in ECE courses

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.

Our preference is for regular presentation.

Pejcinovic, B., & Bass, R. B., & Wong, P. (2018, June), Assessing Scrum Project Management and Teamwork in Electrical and Computer Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29822

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