F8-TEAM3-2 - Involving IT professionals in Scrum student teams: An empirical study on the impact of students’ learning

1. Innovative Practice Full Paper
Panagiotis K. Linos1 , Ryan Rybarczyk1, Nathan Partenheimer1
1 Butler University

This is a full paper under the Innovative Practice category. It presents an empirical study that describes our efforts, reflections and lessons learned from including Information Technology (IT) professionals in an undergraduate Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) course, which introduces Scrum as an agile software development methodology.  We discuss how students, who took such a course, perceive their interaction with IT professionals as an overall positive learning experience and an opportunity to interject real world lessons and scenarios into course content. Moreover, we report on some useful observations and the feedback we received from the professionals, who volunteered and committed to engage regularly with our student Scrum teams throughout this course. We discuss how we leveraged the feedback we received, from both students and IT professionals, to incrementally fine-tune our course while teaching it.  Based on the empirical data gathered during our study, we explain how this win-win collaboration has been beneficial to everyone involved. More specifically, we have found that this approach helps students better understand and apply important principles, methods and tools for software development, become familiar with team dynamics, communicate effectively with an IT professional and gain a better appreciation of the inherent challenges involved in crafting larger and realistic software applications.  In addition, we observed that such an engagement provides not only some gratification to IT professionals, who have the opportunity to mentor our students both inside and outside of the classroom, but also an opportunity for them to refresh their knowledge on certain methodologies, technologies and tools used during our course. We conclude by discussing some of the instructor’s challenges while teaching this course as well as our plans to continue improving it by strengthening the involvement of IT professionals in student teams.