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Agile Faculty

Practical Strategies for Managing Research, Service, and Teaching

Agile Faculty

Practical Strategies for Managing Research, Service, and Teaching

Digital tools have long been a transformative part of academia, enhancing the classroom and changing the way we teach. Yet there is a way that academia may be able to benefit more from the digital revolution: by adopting the project management techniques used by software developers.

Agile work strategies are a staple of the software development world, developed out of the need to be flexible and responsive to fast-paced change at times when “business as usual” could not work. These techniques call for breaking projects into phases and short-term goals, managing assignments collectively, and tracking progress openly.

Agile Faculty is a comprehensive roadmap for scholars who want to incorporate Agile practices into all aspects of their academic careers, be it research, service, or teaching. Rebecca Pope-Ruark covers the basic principles of Scrum, one of the most widely used models, and then through individual chapters shows how to apply that framework to everything from individual research to running faculty committees to overseeing student class work. Practical and forward-thinking, Agile Faculty will help readers not only manage their time and projects but also foster productivity, balance, and personal and professional growth.

See a video introducing the book.

176 pages | 4 halftones, 13 line drawings, 21 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2017

Education: Higher Education

Reference and Bibliography


Agile Faculty offers a rare thing: a fresh perspective on academic work. Pope-Ruark shares ideas both practical and inspiring, from sprints to scrum boards and the Zeigarnik Effect. Faculty, staff, and students alike can benefit.”

Bryan Alexander, author of The New Digital Storytelling

“Building solutions that advance society requires us to flip our current engagement models on their head, whether it be how to execute research projects or teach courses. Taking a pragmatic approach, Pope-Ruark outlines steps that faculty members can use to incorporate principles of Agile development into their research, teaching, mentoring, and service commitments. Agile Faculty will be a refreshing read for scholars, whether they are entering the faculty ranks or are seasoned academics. I encourage you experiment with the concepts outlined in Agile Faculty.”

Kevin C. Desouza, Foundation Professor, Arizona State University

Table of Contents

Author’s Note

1          Reimagining Paths to Faculty Vitality in Higher Education

Understanding Faculty Career Stresses
New Faculty
Mid-career Faculty
Women Faculty
Faculty of Color
Contingent Faculty

Shifting the Narrative

Introducing Agile and Scrum
Origins of Agile and Scrum
Scrum Values

Applying Agile to Faculty Work
An Agile Faculty Manifesto
Agile Faculty Values

Enacting the Agile Faculty Mindset

2          Working the Agile Way Using Scrum

What Is Scrum?
How Is Scrum Different?
What Is the Scrum Process?
What Happens during the Sprint?

How Have I Used Scrum in My Own Experience?
A Research Example
A Service Example
A Teaching Example

Wrapping Up

3          Organizing and Prioritizing Your Personal Research Agenda

To-Do List vs. Backlog

Create Your Research Agenda Backlog

Build a Realistic Sprint Plan from the Backlog

Make Your Sprint Backlog Visible

Remain Agile in the Face of Change or Opportunity

Wrapping Up

4          Running a Collaborative Research Project or Program

Understanding the Foundations of Collaboration

Laying the Groundwork for Good Scrum Research Teams
Who, and How Many?
How Will You Work Together?

Prioritizing, Estimating, and Visualizing the Research Backlog
Prioritizing with a Product Owner
Estimating Backlog Stories
Estimating with T-shirt Sizing
Estimating with Story Points
Estimating in Practice

Scaling the Backlog across Multiple Teams

Wrapping Up

5          Leading Effective Agile Committees

Serving as an Agile Leader

Launching (or Resetting) the Agile Faculty Committee
Pick the Right People
Hold a Committee Retreat
Team Building
Committee Charter Development
Goal Setting and Backlog Generating
First Sprint Planning

Facilitating the Agile Committee
Setting Meeting Agendas
Facilitating Discussion
Managing Conflict

Wrapping Up

6          Mentoring Students and Peers with Agile Activities

Understanding Mentorship as an Agile Teaching Activity

Using Epics and Stories with Undergraduate Mentees

Mentoring Research Students

Mentoring New Faculty

Mutual Faculty Mentoring

Wrapping Up

7          Organizing Your Course as an Epic

Rethinking Backward Design as Agile Course Design
Brainstorming about the Course
Articulating Epics and Stories
Determining Assessment Criteria for Epics
Framing the Course Schedule

Creating a New Course Using Agile Backward Design
Grant Writing: Brainstorming about the Course
Grant Writing: Articulating Epics and Stories
Grant Writing: Determining Assessment Criteria for Epics
Grant Writing: Framing the Course Schedule

Revising an Existing Course Using Agile Backward Design
Publishing: Brainstorming about the Course
Publishing: Articulating Epics and Stories
Publishing: Determining Assessment Criteria for Epics
Publishing: Framing the Course Schedule

Adapting the Agile Backward Design Process in Other Contexts
Multi-section Courses
Curriculum (Re)Design

Wrapping Up

Appendix 7.1: Complete Schedule for Grant Writing Course

Appendix 7.2: Complete Schedule for Publishing

8          Planning and Implementing Scrum-Based Group Projects

Comparing Cooperation and Collaboration

Aligning a Group Project Idea with Important Course Considerations

Creating a Short Group Project with One Sprint

Creating a Long Group Project with Multiple Sprints

Writing the Assignment Sheet

Encouraging Collaboration and Introducing Scrum

Acting as Product Owner and Scrum Master

Product Owner
Scrum Master

Wrapping Up

Afterword: Imagining the Agile College and University

What if . . .
. . . important committees ran like Scrum teams?
. . . student and faculty peer mentoring used an Agile coaching approach?
. . . programs were sprint- rather than semester-based?
. . . research teams were housed in interdisciplinary, collaborative, Agile centers?
. . . academic publishing used an agile model?

Wrapping Up


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