Adopting Agile Methods for Graduate Employability

Adopting Agile Methods for Graduate Employability

Bernard Griffin (Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK), Mark Udall (Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK), Margaret Ross (Southampton Solent University, Southampton, Hampshire, UK) and Elli Georgiadou (School of Science and Technology, Middlesex University, London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/jhcitp.2013070101
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Abstract

The paper evaluates the impacts of using adaptive contemporary workplace methods for the enhancement of student motivation and learning, along with future employability. The interim effects of incorporating an ‘Agile’ project management approach within an established Activity-Based Learning strategy are considered for second year undergraduate students in Software Engineering and Computer Games Development environments. A range of observations and measurements are analysed to determine likely cause and effect relationships, supported by the university's virtual learning environment, as a key communications component. The findings suggest that student motivation may be significantly enhanced through online access to interactive multi-media materials in support of an incremental facilitated learning strategy. In addition, local employer interest in graduate recruitment has been increased.
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Introduction

When designing new education programmes academics need to ensure the academic cohesiveness of the content of a programme and to also incorporate subject specific skills and competencies the graduates need to acquire transferable generic graduate kills such as managing, a group project successfully, developing critical abilities for published work and for presentations, engaging in research activity, understanding the importance of the presentation of the findings, materials and results (written and oral)., working collaboratively in a team and managing their own time and working to deadlines. Industrial placements, internships, projects based in industry have long been reported by many studies and reports such as (Archer & Davison, 2008; CPA, 2008) as successful mechanisms for student retention and employability.

Systematic initiatives at Middlesex University concentrated on active engagement by an industrial panel leading up to and during tha validation event for both undergraduate and Masters programmes (Georgiadou et al., 2008; Mitchell et al., 2008). For over 20 years all Computing and Engineering programmes at Middlesex include group work as an instrument of developing those vital generic transferable skills. Recent studies carried out in Finland, Greece and the UK reported in Georgiadou et al. (2006), Valtanen et al. (2009), and Valtanen et al. (2011) provide theoretical developments illustrated by case studies across institutions and cultures.

An industry collaboration initiative was developed (at Southampton Solent University) over a four year period with a number of local companies who engage in software engineering. Visits to each organisation were undertaken by one of the authors of this paper on a regular basis to observe working practices in a variety of contextual settings, and to translate these into case study scenarios for use within course delivery strategies.

Where organisations expressed a willingness to actively engage in the provision of case-study materials, filmed interviews were conducted and edited around key questions to support the learning and teaching strategy (an example is described in the next section). Specific links were created within the virtual learning environment to enable students to access relevant learning objects as support material at appropriate levels and stages within individual units.

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