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IBLC11-Abstract-SCRUM-based learning and teaching: an evaluation study on collaborative and immersive learning

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Nannayi Dakat
16 May 2011

Author: Dr Marija Cubric

Abstract:

The primary aim of this work is to describe and assess an innovative blended learning method based on collaborative and immersive learning, using Chickering and Gamsons’s Seven Principles for Undergraduate Education as an underlying framework for evaluation. In addition, we are assessing the principles regarding their clarity, validity and completeness as a framework for measuring the quality of blended learning practice.

The blended learning method was based on SCRUM, the most popular agile Project Management methodology that is founded on the ideas of close collaboration with customer, teamwork, early deployment of working products, frequent feedback etc. The original intent was to provide students with “hands-on” practice in project management, regardless of their background and experience. The solution was to use the students’ group coursework as a “project” paradigm, and to further guide students through the process of developing their coursework using principles and techniques from the subject area (project management), thus enabling learning in a collaborative and immersive way with a strong focus on employability.

The research methodology used in this work is qualitative analysis, based primarily on the students’ questionnaires and focus groups, using as a target group the University of Hertfordshire MSc Project Management and MSc Business Computing 2009/10 module cohort (23 students), and supported by secondary data provided by the University’s virtual learning environment (e.g. module wikis, discussion forums, groupware etc.)

Chickering and Gamsons’s principles were used as a basis for assessing the quality of the deployed blended learning method and in addition, each principle was evaluated regarding its clarity and validity in a general educational context.

The results obtained from students’ questionnaire demonstrate high level of agreement on clarity and validity of the principles, as well as on their use in a context of the specific module. The additional comments from students indicate as the main issue “cooperation and teamwork among students” showing that standard “group work” problems emerge despite the understanding and embracement of the agile culture of communication and feedback. Subsequent semi-structured focus group discussion was conducted with a smaller group of student volunteers in order to further clarify students’ understanding of the seven teaching principles and their perceptions of how they have been used. Preliminary analysis of the transcript data indicate the importance of working together with students in developing a shared student-staff understanding of principles underpinning good teaching and learning practice.  In the paper we will provide further discussion on the focus group findings, guidelines on using the specific blended learning method in other subject areas, as well as recommendations on how the described “two-way evaluation” method could be used across different teaching programmes in order to enhance institutional practice.

Keywords: blended learning, SCRUM, employability, Chickering and Gamsons’s principles

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