Critical Thinking Task for Information Technology Project Management
Christopher Sibona University of North Carolina Wilmington
Abstract Traditional engineering methods of project management have focused on stage-gate progress through a system with high ceremony to reduce project risks. Iterative and incremental project management methods for information systems development, in contrast to traditional engineering approaches, have been used since the 1970s [citation] and Agile methods have become more prominent since the publication of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. Initial approaches to software development followed the standard engineering practices to focus on complete development of a stage task and sign-off from stakeholders upon stage completion where the goal is that few changes to that stage’s artifacts occur. Agile methods are well-suited for information systems development because the software requirements often change over time whereas typical engineering projects have more static requirements that can be specified more completely prior to implementation.
A critical thinking assignment for information technology project management students was developed to teach the philosophy of different project management methods. Students are asked to consider why project management for established engineering disciplines are different from software development. Students are asked to compare and contrast how building software is different from building a bridge. Students generate 5 differences and 5 similarities in this compare and contrast activity. The student answers are collected and then students are asked to pick 20 good answers, 10 moderate answers and 5 answers that need improvement in small teams. The task helped students evaluate their own answers more clearly and understand that the activity is more varied and complex than initially expected.
Students written qualitative responses to the activity included, “I really enjoyed how we were able to analyze our own answers, it made me think about how I answered questions compared to others and how I can improve how I think about processes and relativity when it comes to bridges and software,” and “I really liked how our data was incorporated into the class and the feedback system that was used. I really enjoyed the class group work when it was an open conversation with the whole class.” Students indicated that improvements can be made to the activity by allowing more time to develop their answers, some students felt the task was intimidating in that they had to tell other students that their answers needed improvement and some students thought the group size (4-5) should be smaller so that more students saw the answers and could provide more input.
Overall, this critical thinking activity helped prepare students for the subsequent tasks in the course. Identifying helpful and less helpful answers demonstrated to students the importance of clear communication in future assignments. Students could see that one word answers, such as “complexity” needed to more completely express ideas. This critical thinking task is a straightforward lesson that can help students throughout a course in information technology project management.
Recommended Citation: Sibona, C., (2018). Critical Thinking Task for Information Technology Project Management. Proceedings of the EDSIG Conference, (2018) n.4794, Norfolk, Virginia