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Benefits And Struggles Of Using Large Team Projects In Capstone Courses

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Student Learning and Teamwork

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.304.1 - 12.304.6



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Paper Authors

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Troy Harding Kansas State University-Salina

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Benefits and Struggles of Using Large Team Projects in Capstone Courses


Computer System Technology graduates should have strong conceptual and practical knowledge as well as being able to work collaboratively at all levels of software development. One way to bring this all together is by using a capstone course involving a major semester-long team project.

This paper will describe and compare the projects used in our capstone courses over the last two years. It will also present and discuss the impact of having multiple teams all working on their own team project as opposed to having the whole class work together on the same large project. The paper will discuss scheduling and implementation problems, evaluation procedures, peer collaboration in problem solving and conflict resolution, students’ attitude toward using projects as an instructional tool, and instructor reflections on the process. Suggestions for improvement from both an instructor and a student perspective will be included.


The benefits of employing collaboration in the classroom are well known1. In addition, advisory board members, prospective employers, and industrial partners have been expressing the desire to hire computer systems technology graduates that are well rounded in all aspects of our profession. Graduates should possess strong conceptual and practical knowledge as well as be able to work collaboratively at all levels of software development: from problem solving to design, from development to implementation and maintenance. Such an obvious request is not easily implemented.

In an attempt to implement this request, two methods of forming student teams were explored in the capstone course for web development technology. The capstone course in which the projects were completed is for advanced students and focuses solely on students designing and implementing a large project using development teams.

Collaborative Structure

In one section of the capstone course twelve students were grouped into three teams of four students each. The class as a whole was assigned a project with the idea that different aspects of the project would be divided among the different groups. This will be referred to as the “cooperative-teams” approach.

In another section, the students were also divided into teams of four. However this time each team completed their own version of an assigned project. For the most part the teams worked independently of each other. The only time the teams worked together was to collaborate on such things as conducting user surveys and client interviews in the early stages of the project planning. This will be referred to as the “independent-teams” approach.

Harding, T. (2007, June), Benefits And Struggles Of Using Large Team Projects In Capstone Courses Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3009

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