F2-TEAM2-1 - Relation of Individual Time Management Practices and Time Management of Teams

3. Research Full Paper
Tapio Auvinen1 , Nickolas Falkner2, Arto Hellas3, Petri Ihantola4, Ville Karavirta3, Otto Seppälä3
1 VXT Research
2 University of Adelaide
3 Aalto University
4 University of Helsinki

Full paper: Team configuration, work practices, and communication have a considerable impact on the outcomes of student software projects. In this research paper, we observe 150 college students who first individually solve exercises and then carry out a class project in teams of three. All projects had the same requirements. We analyzed how students' behavior on individual pre-project exercises predicts team project outcomes, investigated how students' time management practices affected other team members, and analyzed how students divided their work among peers.

The results suggest that student's individual time management practices prior to the project can have an influence on the teammates' time management practices during the project. It seems that teams are drawn towards the students that work later rather than those working earlier, which implies that the issue cannot be mitigated by forming groups that include at least one early-submitting student. Time management problems appear to be a pitfall in team projects. Thus, we suggest that attention is paid to teaching good time management practices or by other means persuading students to follow them. Using a version control system gives a window into the project and could allow possible interventions if we know how to recognize teams at risk.

Students employ various strategies to divide work among the team. However, most strategies have shortcomings. Each student working on a specific feature teaches them a variety of techniques but allows them to work individually and avoid collaboration and communication. On the other hand, each student specializing on a specific technique requires students to collaborate and communicate but only teaches them (a narrow) set of technical skills. We observed that most teams divide tasks in a way that is beneficial for developing technical skills instead of collaboration skills.
One way to overcome this issue might be to encourage pair programming, which students do not often choose to perform spontaneously. In addition, as students preferred dividing tasks by using the features listed in the project requirements, it might be worth designing the features so that they force the student to employ a broad set of (web software) skills.