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Short tasks are better than long ones in student teams

More short tasks mean more frequent dopamine hits

This is a busy week for me doing a week of all-day workshop sessions for students starting their large team projects on our MSc IT degree. That means a short post this week so that I stay on track to post each Wednesday.

I read this article about dopamine in The Conversation the other week and was reminded of other things. Go look at it and come back.

Let’s see if you were struck by the same things I noticed.

My takeaway was this: we find short tasks enjoyable, because we get a dopamine hit when we finish them. Yeah, another thing done on my list! Now I get my dopamine. This applies to everyone.

This is why doing small tasks is preferable to long-running ones. Long tasks lead to fewer dopamine hits, so everyone prefers more short tasks as these offer more rewards.

Tell students to break down big tasks

You can use this by encouraging your students to break up bigger tasks into more smaller ones. This can also be applied to slicing stories into smaller ones too.

Yes, this makes for more tickets in the task board, but the work is still the same amount. We’ve made it more fun to do, which is a win for everyone.

This post is part of a project pulling together my materials and ideas about Teaching Team Collaboration: the Human-Side of Software Development for software development to students.

The ideas above are from my book 101+ Ideas to Improve Team Collaboration, which covers all of these little things that students can do to improve their collaboration.

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