Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: doi:10.22028/D291-39953
Title: Correlates of programmer efficacy and their link to experience: a combined EEG and eye-tracking study
Author(s): Peitek, Norman
Bergum, Annabelle
Rekrut, Maurice
Mucke, Jonas
Nadig, Matthias
Parnin, Chris
Siegmund, Janet
Apel, Sven
Language: English
Title: Proceedings of the 30th ACM Joint Meeting : European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering
Pages: 120-131
Publisher/Platform: Association for Computing Machinery
Year of Publication: 2022
Free key words: Programmer efficacy
program comprehension
cognitive load
eye tracking
DDC notations: 004 Computer science, internet
Publikation type: Conference Paper
Abstract: Background: Despite similar education and background, programmers can exhibit vast differences in efficacy. While research has identified some potential factors, such as programming experience and domain knowledge, the effect of these factors on programmers’ efficacy is not well understood. Aims: We aim at unraveling the relationship between efficacy (speed and correctness) and measures of programming experience. We further investigate the correlates of programmer efficacy in terms of reading behavior and cognitive load. Method: For this purpose, we conducted a controlled experiment with 37 participants using electroencephalography (EEG) and eye tracking. We asked participants to comprehend up to 32 Java sourcecode snippets and observed their eye gaze and neural correlates of cognitive load. We analyzed the correlation of participants’ efficacy with popular programming experience measures. Results: We found that programmers with high efficacy read source code more targeted and with lower cognitive load. Commonly used experience levels do not predict programmer efficacy well, but selfestimation and indicators of learning eagerness are fairly accurate. Implications: The identified correlates of programmer efficacy can be used for future research and practice (e.g., hiring). Future research should also consider efficacy as a group sampling method, rather than using simple experience measures.
DOI of the first publication: 10.1145/3540250.3549084
URL of the first publication:
Link to this record: urn:nbn:de:bsz:291--ds-399530
ISBN: 978-1-4503-9413-0
Date of registration: 12-Jun-2023
Notes: ESEC/FSE ’22, November 14-18, 2022, Singapore, Singapore
Faculty: MI - Fakultät für Mathematik und Informatik
Department: MI - Informatik
Professorship: MI - Prof. Dr. Sven Apel
MI - Prof. Dr. Antonio Krüger
Collections:SciDok - Der Wissenschaftsserver der Universität des Saarlandes

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