Agile and the Human Learning Process

Cycle of Agile: Plan, Do, Act, Check, compared with cycle of learning: Course Planning, Lesson Delivery, Student Assessment, Course Evaluation and Delivery

Positive Effects of Agile on Human Performance

Flexible Yet Clear Goals: Sprints are goals that are set to be achieved within a short time frame, typically 2 weeks. This gives people something to aim for.

Visible work: Adding tasks and story cards into collaboration tools like Trello, Wrike, or Google Keep helps give a visual of what is being worked on, what has been completed and what work remains. This also removes the stress of unknown workloads. 

Quantifiable Progression:  It is enormously satisfying to move a card into the 'Done' column.

Regular Connection: Daily standups. These are as much about a group of people staying connected with each other, as it is about keeping up with the work and any changes. People feel like a part of the team and like they are doing a part of the work. 

Data Over Feelings: Data speaks volumes in today's world. Real data takes priority over employee opinions, no matter how high leve they are. This data also helps guide decisions. 

Team Coach: Some groups may decide to label one individual as a Scrum Master. They are a selfless leader that enables the team to work best and always has the team in mind. 

Honest Reflections: After each sprint there are retrospectives where you ask the questions: "what went well?" "what could we do better?" and "what is unclear?" Answering these questions help you look forward while recognizing important changes that need to be made. 

Growth from Mistakes: The short nature of sprints combined with retrospectives helps turn mistakes into learning opportunities.

Highlights Success: With showcases at the end of each sprint, teams can show off their progress and have something to be proud of, which boosts morale. 


Physical Interaction vs. Online Courses

In accordance with Agile principles, in-person classroom interactions and face-to-face instruction are crucial and strongly preferred over technological or distance learning methods. Extensive group work and creation of self-organizing teams are also strongly advised practices for good Agile outcomes. The Agile practices above are the most conducive to human learning and comprehension because humans interacting face-to-face is the oldest, most tested and effective way of conveying meaningful information and effecting positive change. "Agile proponents believe that the best ideas and initiatives emerge from self-organizing teams."

Everyone in the Agile environment including students, teachers, and administration should at "regular intervals... reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust their behavior accordingly." Agile works best in an environment where positive changes, including changes in how Agile is done, can occur, but always in line with the Agile principles. 


Reflection is a key factor in Higher Education. Reflection in this case is defined as "activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull it over and evaluate it." Reflective practice is a pedagogical tool used widely within formal, informal, individual, and organizational learning activities and processes. The concept and practice of reflection had undergone considerable change and development in its definition and application and takes different forms in different contexts.

In this case retrospectives come into play. By asking questions such as "What went well?" and "What could be improved?" students perform an evaluation on their experiences in the classroom. Through retrospectives, students can mindfully track and improve their learning. 


In this short YouTube video, Artie Kuhn talks about how Agile lends itself to the way that humans learn.

In another video posted on YouTube, Artie discusses how Agile lines up with his way of working and how he implements it in his classes.


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Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1989). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Biochemical Education, 17(3). doi:10.1016/0307-4412(89)90094-0

Jordi, R. (2011). Reframing the Concept of Reflection: Consciousness, Experiential Learning, and Reflective Learning Practices. Adult Education Quarterly, 61(2), 181-197. Retrieved from:

Prieto, R. J. (2016, September 01). The Agile Classroom: Embracing an Agile Mindset In Education. Retrieved from

Waters, T., & Waters, T. (2018, April 27). The Psychology of Agile - Agile in Learning - Medium. Retrieved from