Considerations and Pitfalls in Controlled Experiments on Code Comprehension

Dror G. Feitelson

Understanding program code is a complicated endeavor. As such, myriad different factors can influence the outcome. Investigations of program comprehension, and in particular those using controlled experiments, have to take these factors into account. In order to promote the development and use of sound experimental methodology, we discuss potential problems with regard to the experimental subjects, the code they work on, the tasks they are asked to perform, and the metrics for their performance.

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