June 28, 1998
June 28, 1998
July 1, 1998
3.611.1 - 3.611.4
Using Gantt Chart Software in Managing Student Team Projects
Gary B. Randolph Purdue University School of Technology Anderson, Indiana
Student team projects have become a popular way to teach. Good teams develop an environment of effective adult learning andragogy,1 emphasizing student self-direction in their own learning, shared experiences, near-term application and performance feedback. But coaching teams and keeping them on track is a difficult and delicate job for faculty.2 The instructor cannot manage teams for students. Yet no one wants teams to flounder. Gantt chart software can help students manage their own teams, and, in the process, teach principles of project management and teamwork.
In a Computer Technology course on database development, students were assigned a team database development project. The team task was to design a complete database application in Microsoft Access, a popular database program. The finished project was to include the data design, data entry screens, query options, reports, and programming code for special functions.
Early in the semester, students were presented the requirements for the proposed database. Students were then placed into teams of 3-5 students. Class time was allotted for the teams to discuss the project and how they should proceed. They could ask questions of the “client,” who was represented by the instructor. Then, after a short lecture on the concepts behind PERT and Gantt analysis, students were introduced to a special Gantt analysis software program they could use to help coordinate their efforts.
GANTT SOFTWARE TOOL
Gantt charting is a simple time-charting tool developed by Henry L. Gantt in 1917. 3 Gantt charts are effective for scheduling projects and tracking their progress. In a Gantt chart, each task in a project is represented by a horizontal bar. The length of each bar indicates the time required to complete the task. Since some tasks cannot be begun until other tasks are completed, the position of each bar indicates when that task can be begun. The network of bars stretches out to indicate the total time required to complete the project. The strength of Gantt charting lies in its ability to make clear the interdependence of tasks that come together to create a completed project.3
To help the students manage their teams, a simplified Gantt analysis program was developed in Microsoft Access for the students’ use. This, of course, was not the only software option. Microsoft Project, Micro Planner X-Pert from Micro Planning International, Milestones Etc. from Kidasa Software, and others serve the commercial market well. The current project, however, suggested a need to develop a homebrew project manager for several reasons.
Randolph, G. B. (1998, June), Using Gantt Chart Software In Managing Student Team Projects Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/7505
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