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August 26, 2011 / KaTe

Exams and teamwork

I just read an interesting post – Certified Scrum Training – Debunking the Bullshit.

CSM class reality check
It got me thinking – why am I actually a Professional Scrum Trainer not a Certified Scrum Trainer? Of course there is a huge dose of Ken Schwaber’s charisma, the family feeling of being welcome in the trainer community and sense of collaboration, and the “bullshit is debunked” here – class equivalent to a CSM is called Professional Scrum Foundations. Of course I don’t mean that one or the other is better – that depends very much on a trainer, who is delivering the knowledge.  But one thing got me thinking. I just trained a huge amount of people with my current employer (over 150 people) and got some interesting feedback.

Right after classes I distributed surveys, but they did not give much information, besides that the higher management I have had in the class, the less they understood 😉
Real feedback came later – after the exam. You have to score 85% or more, to be certified as a Professional Scrum Master I. I tweaked this a little. In some of the classes I encouraged people not to take the assessment alone, but to find a person or two from their team and try to solve problems on it together.
I noticed two things – first, in these teams that collectively solved the exam, Scrum started appearing faster – few days after the class, they had a Scrum Master candidate, negotiated a Product Owner with their managers and looked for literature expanding their views. They also reached out to me with feedback and asking for advice. Classes that were not encouraged to take the exam in groups barely took it at all (almost 50% less people even tried to pass).
Second observation – people that gave me feedback face to face after some time admitted: the test was extremely valuable in organizing their knowledge. They learned the most from exercises in the class and the test itself. And the most when debating which answer is correct.

Look at the education nowadays. Exams in the end of the class or a course should not only check the knowledge (unfortunately they manly only do this), but get people thinking, making their knowlege more organized. And if people learn best in groups – why not give them another opportunity to learn? I believe we should change the way we educate ourselves and our children. I encourage you to watch a short RSAnimate video:

I hope this will make you rethink some of your educational approaches.

Special thanks to Michael Vizdos for getting me thinking !



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  1. Michael Vizdos / Aug 27 2011 6:40 pm

    Great posting.

    I agree with a lot of what you say, and am encouraged to hear great feedback.

    As a CST, I receive the same type of feedback (even though I am not an internal trainer).

    Not sure if you are trying to make a big difference between the two of us as a CST vs. PST. In the end, I really do feel the experience for either a PSM or CSM attendee is really up to the trainer. As a CST I was mentored by Ken Schwaber to become a CST and learned a lot from his style. Over the years, I have helped create a lot more CST’s (competitors and collaborators).

    Ken has a great business model that works for Ken. The Scrum Alliance has a great business model that works for them.

    CST or PST… really… it’s about getting the information out there and helping people become the best they can!

    Thank you,

    – mike vizdos

    • KaTe / Aug 28 2011 1:20 pm

      Hi Mike,

      thank you for your comment!
      I completely agree with you – a lot depends on a trainer. I did not mean to say – one is better or worse, I wanted to stress the exam itself, which does give a lot of thinking to people trying to take it. I heard a lot of good things about your classes, which in Scrum Alliances business model, that enables altering the course and courseware, gives best trainers room to maneuver. I wish I took my CSM class from you – or a trainer in your league 😉

      thank you!

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