Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Learning Innovation Fund Awards

Markus Helfert - Development and pilot for a problem based course "Individualized Learning Scorecards"

Principal applicant

Markus Helfert

School or Unit

School of Computing

Additional Applicants

Howard Duncan, School of Computing, Howard.Duncan@computing.DCU.ie

Amount requested


Amount received


Summary description

The concept for the project was developed within a collaboration between DCU and the University of Vienna. We propose to develop and implement a trial course for a problem based scenario within one of our undergraduate courses. The problem scenario is built up on the balanced scorecard approach that is currently widely used as performance measurement methodology.

For the proposed course, the students will define their own personal set of learning measures, which they will assess using the scorecard technology they are required to develop. The course will apply a problem based learning approach. Students will develop and implement the system by researching relevant technical information and participating in a series of workshops and group studies. They will apply concepts from other modules they are being taught. The underlying system architecture is based on data warehousing and using a tool ADOscore, which provides a model-based implementation of balanced scorecards.

Project URL


Strategic Objectives

1.1 Develop a culture of enquiry-led learning.

Strategic Context

The objectives of the Strategic Plan are addressed as follows (numbers refer to paragraphs in the Plan):

The project will develop a culture of enquiry-led learning. Students will be required to conduct their own research into both the use of Balanced Score-cards and the enabling technology (1.1, 6.2). They will be exposed to work done internationally and in industry and will be required to present and discuss their research and project to both internal and external evaluators (1.1). These will be drawn from other faculties within DCU, and from industry (6.2, 6.5).

This will be a problem-based course, in which students will learn key objectives of the course in a practical setting (1.2, 3.4, 3.2).

Students will learn how to develop "their" own learning strategy and appropriate measures as part of the project. (1.3)

The project arises out and continues a collaboration with the University of Vienna (6.3, 6.4)

Implementation Plan

The project will be implemented by Dr. Markus Helfert and Mr. Howard Duncan by redesigning module CA257, which is co-ordinated by Dr. Helfert. The University of Vienna has carried out a similar pilot, and by collaborating with them we can receive valuable experience and guidance. The expected direct output of this project will be a detailed problem based course, including appropriate teaching material, project scenario, underlying learning concept and assessment procedures. In addition an experience report about implementing a problem based learning course will be prepared.

The redesign will provide the required infrastructure for the course-work.

The proposed course will be structured in three phases:

1) Students will receive an instruction lecture about balanced scorecards and the tool ADOscore. For this we intend to invite a guest lecturer from the University of Vienna.

2) Students will work in groups to prepare a project plan and meet regularly for discussions and presentations.

Workshops will be held

-for modelling a balanced scorecard

-for developing the system architecture

-for defining the interface and functional specification

Lab tutorials will support the implementation of the required system components. The project progress is measured by presentations and regular reports.

3) Students will present their project to a panel, with both internal and external experts, including practitioners.

This project follows an approach developed by Harel and Papert (1990) who pioneered an interactive learning environment and developed a community of practice. Similar work was undertaken by Lippert (1988, 1990)

More recently, Dimitris Karagianis (2005, 2006) of the University of Vienna has published research on applying Balanced Scorecards to Universities.

The project will start immediately in Semester 2 of 2006, and will be completed by 31.8.06.

Since a similar project has been successfully completed by the University of Vienna, the risks are seen as slight.


The project will be the first semester-long problem-based course within our undergraduate computing degree. The students will be expected to research relevant information and discuss the approaches and problems with peers, tutors and lecturers. Thus it will support the developing of inquiry-based learning and research skills.

After project completion we will evaluate the experience gained with this project and improve the project scenario, underlying learning concept and assessment procedures. We will evaluate the students' view during the project by questionnaires and incorporate the students' feedback. Also, a final exam will examine the knowledge gained and evaluate the impact of our approach.

Dissemination and Sustainability

Part of the project will be to make course material and information available on Moodle. This will provide all relevant information for students, the learning scenario and information about the project. Moodle includes features for discussion and feedback. After the project completion this page can be made available to staff at DCU. We will also include comments and updates of our learning experiences, and those of students. Full reports will also be produced and submitted to the LIU. It is hoped to generate a publication for the international journal "Communications of the AIS". Having successful completed the pilot course it is expected to include this course as regular module for our undergraduate programme.

While the nature of the project, involving development of software, is best suited to computing courses, the concept of using industrial software tools in an academic environment, and adapting those tools as part of the learning process, has a much wider application, and will be of relevance to many other courses.

Detailed budget

-Academic and teaching license for ADOscore: 4500 Euro

-Postgraduate support (estimated about 80 Hours): 2200 Euro

-Invitation for guest lecturer from University of Vienna: 800 Euro

-Workshop with external experts and practitioners: 800 Euro

-Research and development work and technical support by staff in the School of Computing (120 hours): 6900 Euro

As this is a trial and pilot implementation for a problem based course, we request additional funding that is required to develop appropriate T&L materials and resources and additional tutorial support. The postgraduate support is necessary for supporting the creating of appropriate T&L materials, supporting tutorials and workshops as well as supporting the project implementation. The software tool ADOscore is a model-based implementation of balanced scorecards. The tool fits within our current tool portfolio.

The School of Computing is contributing in kind to the project in the form of Dr. Helfert's and Mr. Duncan's time, to the extent of 120 hours, in addition to the normal hours for the course.

Other Information

This project provides a unique opportunity to implement both a problem based learning course and facilitate student managed learning.


Harel, I, & Papert, S. (1990). Software design as a learning environment. Interactive Learning Environments, 1(1), 1P32.

Karagiannis, D., Lichka, C. (2005) Steuerung von Universitäten anhand anhand der Balanced Scorecard. Interner Bericht Department of Knowledge Engnineering; http://www.dke.univie.ac.at/arbeitsberichte/wisu-bsc.pdf; Accessed 19.1.06.

Karagiannis, D., Lichka, C., Rieger, B. (2006) Von der Balanced Scorecard zu universitären Wissenbilanzen. In Karagiannis, D. Rieger, B (ed) Herausforerungen in der Wirtschaftsinformatik. Springer.

Lippert, R. C. (1988, March), An expert system shell to teach problem solving. TechTrends, 22-26.

Lippert, R. (1990). Teaching problem solving in mathematics and science with expert systems. Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 1(3), 27-40.