You’re In Charge — Now Do It My Way
The project course I'm teaching this term has forty-six students in it, who are working on twenty-five projects. Some are going very well, but some teams are still trying to get the code their clients have given them to compile or run. The main reason seems to be time management: this is just one course among five for most students, and unlike their others, it doesn't have regular assignments or deadlines every few weeks. That makes it very easy for students to push it aside because something else has to be done by [tomorrow, Friday, next week].
Now, I know from experience that if I set deadlines every couple of weeks, students will find a way to meet them, just as they do in their other courses. However, I also know that doing that robs students of a chance to learn how to manage their time. That, writing, and budgeting are the holy trinity of consulting: everything else can be fudged, but if you can't keep yourself focused on the things that actually matter, explain what you're doing, and manage your money, you'll never make it on your own.
So, what could I do to help them? I have given them the sermon about "don't put this off until the end of term unless you really want a C-", and they all understand it intellectually, but it's clear that a substantial minority still don't get it in their gut. Regular progress reports don't help, since students regard them (rightly, I think) as yet another distraction from the projects themselves. If anyone has any silver bullets, please pass 'em along...