On the day of our last class we discussed some of the behaviors of an excellent student in order to create a contract to assess our own behavior over the course. The repetitive theme on the discussion board was communication. Some of the communication behaviors were:
- Communicate any absence or tardiness
- Communicate your work clear and consistently
- Communicate goals and skills and progress
- Communicate problems and frustration (asking for help/ asking questions)
- Effective Communication
This shows that communication is a very important factor when you are working with other people whether it be in pairs or large groups. I think that basically we all need to be clear with each other, if we cannot make a meeting time, we need to say so as soon as we find out and go out of our way to catch up on what we missed.
On communicating our work, we need to let other people know what we are doing and how we did it. If we are in a large group working on the same project, we may be working on different parts of the project. However, there needs to be a time (about once a week) for us to get together and kind of have a “report out”, where we let the other group members know what we have been up to.
Communicating our goals is very important, but when we first dive in, our goals may be very vague as we might not know exactly what it is we are trying to accomplish. Progress I can understand, and that goes back to the report out I mentioned above. I am a little confused about how we can communicate our skills, other than talking about the way that we solved a certain problem.
I think it is important to acknowledge when you are stuck, and ask for help because other people have different eyes than you, and often when you work together you can knock out a problem and learn something new from each other. The last thing mentioned is effective communication and we all know that there is a difference between communicating something, and doing it in an effective way. I think once the groups are formed, we will all fall into our own rhythm and find what works best for each of us.
The next section of behavior that was communicated in our discussion was organization:
- Organized workflow: follow process, style, structure, etc.
- Well Documented Workflow: write what you did
Organization is a huge part of having a successful semester, especially when you are to work in groups. A discussion on what is right for each project, and how you are going to tackle different aspects of the project is important. Documenting your work is also essential, because even you may not understand what you did when you look back at your work.
The last main section is one of the most important parts of our discussion, but it is also going to be the most difficult to gauge.
- Create a positive, supportive community
- Consistent Contribution
- Equal Contribution
- Goal: Experience over product
I think that creating a positive and supportive community is one of the best things that we can do to become successful in this class. We are in this together, and we should help everyone feel confident in their ability to contribute to the project. We need an environment where we are comfortable working together and asking questions and learning from one another. If we do this, it is going to be really hard not to be successful.
On consistent contribution, I think that this is one of the more difficult ones to weigh, because if someone is consistently trying, but getting stuck and working out other ways to solve the problem, it might not look like they are contributing when they have actually been working very hard. I think that this one could be consistent effort, unless we look at contributing in all its forms. Contributing can mean exploring, talking, finding, and fixing problems. People will contribute differently, and that is okay.
Equal contribution, is going to be even more difficult than the above to evaluate. What is equal? How can someone equally contribute. What makes contributions equal? Time? Effort? I don’t know if this is a good “Behavior” for our contract, because can we contribute as equally as the person who doesn’t contribute, or as much as the person who works 15 hours a week? Can we all find a way to contribute exactly as much as everyone else? I know I’m being to literal, but this one has little room for interpretation so I do think that it should be revised, although I am not sure how. I get where we were going with it and I think it is important that everyone carries their weight of the project, but I don’t know how to evaluate it.
The ending goal that we talked about was experience over product. I think software engineering is a great opportunity for us to all get some “real world” group experience that we can look back on and be satisfied with. But, in the mean-time, I think that we can contribute to some pretty cool projects, or at least gain an understanding on them. The possibilities are endless.