Facilitating Problem-Based Learning in Teams with Scrum

Nis Ovesen

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
1034 Downloads (Pure)


Project-organised and problem-based learning (POPBL) is becoming increasingly popular across universities all over the world, and hence this, it is also gaining currency in some university-based design educations. At Aalborg University, the curriculum in Industrial Design engineering is no exception: Each semester, students are divided into groups and work with various problems or issues partly defined by themselves within the frame of the semester theme.
During the first year at Aalborg University, students are taught how to manage and plan projects independently with the use of common planning tools like Gantt charts, schedules and simple resource management practices – tools, which are used throughout the education. However, this paper argues that these common project planning and management practices – typically representing rigid “plan-your-work, then work-your-plan” approaches – do not necessarily fit well to the often open-ended and wicked problems of design projects. Scrum, on the other hand, is a relatively new and agile management framework from the software industry that specifically addresses the need for more dynamic and flexible project management practices. Among other aspects, Scrum allows for midstream-changes and continuous revision of the project brief.
This paper discusses what design students gain from applying project management practices from Scrum to a project-organised and problem-based learning environment when trying to meet the learning goals of a design engineering curriculum. The outcome of the experiments supports an initial hypothesis about improved focus and team efficiency when using Scrum. But the experiments also reveal significant improvements on internal team communication and attitude. However, it also indicates possible limitations regarding the use of Scrum in some phases of the student projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Education - Growing Our Future : Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
EditorsErik Bohemia, William Ion, Ahmed Kovacevic, John Lawlor, Mark McGrath, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson, Ger Reilly, Michael Ring, Robert Simpson, David Tormey
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationGlasgow, UK
PublisherDesign Society
Publication dateSept 2013
ISBN (Print)978-1-904670-42-1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
EventThe 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education - Growing our Future - Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 5 Sept 20136 Sept 2013


ConferenceThe 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
LocationDublin Institute of Technology


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