Exploring motivation and teamwork in a large software engineering capstone course during the coronavirus pandemic


  • Yngve Lindsjørn Univeristy of Oslo
  • Steffen Almås
  • Viktoria Stray




In the spring of 2020, the Department of Informatics covered a 20 ECTS capstone course in Software Engineering, mainly focusing on developing a complex application. The course used active learning methods, and 240 students were working in 42 cross-functional, agile teams. The pandemic caused by the coronavirus had a significant impact on the teaching given by the University of Oslo, as all physical education and collaboration among the teams had to be digital from March 12. At the end of the semester, we conducted a survey that focused on 1) aspects of teamwork (e.g., communication and coordination in the teams) and the relation to team performance (e.g., the application product) and 2) the students’ motivation and ability to cooperate through digital platforms. A total of 151 respondents in 41 agile student teams answered the survey. This study aimed to investigate how the teamwork and motivation of the students were affected by having to work virtually. The results are compared to results from the same course in 2019 and a similar survey on 71 professional teams published in 2016. Our results show that the teamwork was evaluated similarly to both the evaluation of survey conducted in 2019 and on the professional teams in 2016.  The motivation among the students remained high, even though they had to collaborate virtually.


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