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Teaching Agile the Agile Way — Employing Self-Organizing Teams in a University Software Engineering Course

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2016 ASEE International Forum


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 25, 2016

Start Date

June 25, 2016

End Date

June 25, 2016

Conference Session

Concurrent Virtual Sessions

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International Forum Virtual Presentation

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Christoph Matthies Hasso-Plattner Institute, University of Potsdam, Germany Orcid 16x16

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Christoph Matthies is a PhD candidate and research assistant at the Enterprise Platform and Integration Concepts chair of the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

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Thomas Kowark Hasso Plattner Institute

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Thomas Kowark is a former member of the HPI research school on "Service-oriented Systems Engineering" and now a researcher at the "Enterprise Platform and Integration Concepts" group. After completing both the Bachelor’s and the Master’s program at HPI he decided to continue with his Ph.D. studies at this institute, but broadened the focus from a completely technical to a more design research driven level. His main focus is the replicability of software repository data analysis.

He furthermore is involved in various teaching activities, for example as a teaching assistant in a software engineering lecture. There he is responsible for organizing an exercise that has all 80 students of the lecture develop a single system in a joint effort. Furthermore, he is responsible for organizing the ME310/SUGAR lecture ( at the EPIC chair and also serves as a teacher in that course.

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Matthias Uflacker Hasso Plattner Institute for IT Systems Engineering

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Teaching students the basics of agile software development, by pairing lectures with a practical project, has been a part of computer science curricula for the last decades. However, the structure of these projects is often not agile and adaptable itself, in the way how teams are formed, workload is assigned, and meetings are organised. This restricts the areas that students can gather firsthand experiences in. In this paper we describe a university software engineering course which applies the values of the Agile Manifesto to the course design itself. Students work in self-organizing teams and are given significant authority and responsibility for their work, including planning, scheduling, and workload assignment. During the project they are guided by tutors and supported by a minimal amount of traditional lectures. We regularly assess learning progress and satisfaction via surveys and compare the results to those of more controlled course setups. We have observed positive student attitudes towards the self-organizing approach, with no adverse effects of the novel course design in terms of participant satisfaction or learning success. This confirms that the benefits of agile values, reported in the literature, are also applicable in the domain of education on the subject and can help increase student engagement and provide a better learning experience.

Matthies, C., & Kowark, T., & Uflacker, M. (2016, June), Teaching Agile the Agile Way — Employing Self-Organizing Teams in a University Software Engineering Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE International Forum, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/1-2--27259

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