Using a team-based approach in an IS Course: an empirical study

Van Der Vyver, Glen and Lane, Michael S. (2003) Using a team-based approach in an IS Course: an empirical study. Journal of Information Technology Education, 2 (Specia). pp. 393-406. ISSN 1547-9714


[Executive Summary]: Adaptive and fluid applications development methodologies such as Prototyping, RAD, FAD and Extreme Programming have emerged in recent years in response to organisational realities that include rapid change, uncertainty and ambiguity. These methodologies are well suited to the team-based approach that has become so important in the modern organisation. Yet, many educational programmes in the West still focus on individual learning and assessment. This paper reports on a pilot study where team-based methods are incorporated into a demanding undergraduate IS (Information Systems) course. We review some of the new approaches to applications development, in particular team-based approaches and examine how they are highly relevant to the way business is conducted today. The study involves students who were enrolled in an undergraduate course in database development. A learning environment that incorporates elements of the “real world” and a strongly group-focused approach was designed. Although the course is relatively ‘technical’, it is a core course for many programmes and therefore attracts enrollments from students with varying levels of prior technical knowledge and ability. Based upon the results of diagnostic tests, GPA and a survey, students were allocated to groups that were specifically designed to foster group learning. Each group had a balance of skills and included at least one person identified as a lead programmer, who had scored 85% or above in the test, had a high GPA’s and exhibited confidence in overall and course-specific technical abilities. Groups were required to complete a variety of tasks relating to the creation and maintenance of databases and database programming. The group-based had a most promising influence on performance, particularly for those students who came from less technical background and / or had struggled in programming courses previously. People
with limited technical knowledge and/or an average amount of technical aptitude do benefit from working in small teams with people who are technically strong. Furthermore, these benefits seem to extend to performance indicators that are related to the group task. A number of problems emerged, however: Students expressed lower levels of overall satisfaction and made a number of negative comments about the new innovations. We are also not sure that lead programmers gained as much as the others from the experience. The course was unexpectedly demanding for the
lecturer. These demands included additional preparation and consultation time, dispute resolution, mentoring and sorting out problems related to group dynamics. A course of this nature demands a significant project and there were complaints about workload. In some groups, not everybody
made a satisfactory contribution.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: PDF of article unable to be displayed due to publisher copyright restrictions. However, article freely available on publisher's website:
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - Department of Information Systems (Up to 31 Mar 2007)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - Department of Information Systems (Up to 31 Mar 2007)
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:20
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:49
Uncontrolled Keywords: organisational learning; team learning; prototyping; RAD; FAD; extreme programming; teaching IS; IS development
Fields of Research (2008): 08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0806 Information Systems > 080608 Information Systems Development Methodologies
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Fields of Research (2020): 46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4609 Information systems > 460905 Information systems development methodologies and practice
39 EDUCATION > 3904 Specialist studies in education > 390402 Education assessment and evaluation

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