Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Information Systems

First Advisor

Allen Lee

Second Advisor

Richard Redmond

Third Advisor

Dhillon Gurpreet

Fourth Advisor

Roland Weistroffer

Fifth Advisor

Anson Seers


The ascension and use of agile and lightweight software development methods have challenged extant software design and development paradigms; this is especially notable in the case of small-team and small-shop software development. In this dissertation, a Reflective-Agile Learning Method and Methodology (RALMM) for small-shop software development, is proposed to enhance communication and learning in the use of agile methods. The purpose of the inquiry in this dissertation pertains to: the nature of the professional practice of small team software development; the implications of the epistemology of Reflective Practice has for the professional practice of small-team software development; and whether the introduction of Reflective Practice to an extant agile methodology improves process, productivity and professional confidence for a small development team. This dissertation uses Dialogical Action Research (Mårtensson and Lee 2004), or Dialogical AR, a qualitative and interpretive research approach, to iteratively develop and refine the Reflective-Agile Learning Model and Method (RALMM). The proposed model and method also considers Hazzan and Tomayko’s (2002, 2004, and 2005) synthesis of Schön’s (1983, 1987) Reflective Practice and Extreme Programming (XP). RALMM is shaped by Argyris and Schön’s theories of practice (1974) and Organizational Learning (1978, 1996) and Schön’s ancillary work on generative metaphor (1979) and frames (Schön et al. 1994). The RALMM artifact was developed in a Dialogical AR Partnership using Lee’s (2007) framework for synthesizing design science and action research. The development and use of RALMM facilitated theorizing on the role of Reflective Practice in the successful use of agile methods. To assist in interpretation and analysis, the data collected during Dialogical AR cycles are analyzed using Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) Grounded Theory as a mode of analysis to guide in the coding and analysis of qualitative evidence from the research. As a result of this research, RALMM improved the practitioners’ processes and productivity. Furthermore, RALMM helped to establish, formalize and reinforce a team learning system for the continued development of the practitioners’ professional repertoire. Additionally, the iterative development of RALMM provides a basis for theorizing on Reflective Practice as an epistemology, paradigm, metaphor and frame of reference for the professional practice of small-shop software development.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2009