Asee peer logo

Experiences With Agile Teaching In Project Based Courses

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.615.1 - 11.615.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Valentin Razmov University of Washington

visit author page

Valentin Razmov spends time in the classroom as often as he can. He is interested in methods to assess and improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Valentin is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at the
University of Washington (Seattle), where he received his Masters degree in Computer Science in 2001. Prior to that, in 1998, he obtained a Bachelors degree with honors in Computer Science from Sofia University (Bulgaria).

visit author page


Richard Anderson University of Washington

visit author page

Richard Anderson is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. He is currently the associate chair for educational programs. His main research interests are in Educational Technology and Computer Science Education.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Experiences with Agile Teaching in Project-Based Courses


In this paper we describe an agile teaching methodology as applied to project-based software engineering courses. We take the term “agile” from the popular software development methodology that emphasizes short feedback cycles, flexibility, and direct involvement of the customer. Our software engineering courses are goal-driven, we include structural mechanisms to support feedback, and we design the projects around frequent checkpoints. The course content is adaptable to student needs and changing situations. After giving an overview of agile teaching, we address specific issues of course structure for supporting feedback, how we act on student feedback, and the mechanisms for collecting just-in-time feedback. The paper concludes with a discussion of the impact on instructors and students, as well as of results from polling our colleagues on their teaching practices in similar courses.

1. Introduction

Feedback is important for adaptation and learning. Instructors who receive feedback can more effectively tailor their teaching to student needs. Students who receive feedback have an opportunity to see more ways to improve, because there are more open (feedback) channels to offer them guidance. Therefore, more frequent feedback can translate into more opportunities for both sides.

Learning is a continuous process, the individual steps of which may often be imperceptibly small to the learner7. Its intensity depends on at least two factors: the student’s engagement (“doing”) and the amount of feedback – positive affirmation or corrective guidance – that the student receives. To provide tailored instruction and relevant advice, instructors in turn need to be aware of student needs and how they evolve over time, so instructors themselves have to seek feedback in order to stay current.

The premise of our work is that increased student involvement and relevance of classroom discussions and projects leads to improved learning. As students hit roadblocks, they discover areas where they lack knowledge and skills. If instructors have a mechanism to find out that this is happening, they can take advantage of such teaching moments – when goal-oriented, targeted feedback can be particularly effective, since it would address an existing need.

Typically, however, not all students hit the same roadblocks, and certainly not all at the same time. Each individual comes with a unique background and learning style, so there are clear benefits to a personalized approach to teaching. Furthermore, with different challenges faced by different students, a flexible approach that takes into account those differences in the learners’ needs would produce superior results. As Kent Beck put it3, “noticing when a learner doesn’t have a tool they need or isn’t using a tool they already have” is key to effective teaching.

Razmov, V., & Anderson, R. (2006, June), Experiences With Agile Teaching In Project Based Courses Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1018

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015