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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2451/14532

Authors: Vessey, Iris
Issue Date: Dec-1984
Publisher: Stern School of Business, New York University
Series/Report no.: IS-85-12
Abstract: This paper reports the results of an exploratory study that investigated expert and novice debugging processes with the aim of contributing to a general theory of programming expertise. The method used was verbal protocol analysis. Data was collected from sixteen programmers employed by the same organization. First, an expert-novice classification of subjects was derived from information based on subjects’ problem solving processes; the criterion of expertise was the subjects' ability to effectively chunk the program they were required to debug. Then, significant differences in subjects’ approaches to debugging were used to characterize programmers' debugging strategies. Comparisons of these strategies with the expert-novice classification showed programmer expertise based on chunking ability to be strongly related to debugging strategy. The following strategic propositions were identified for further testing: 1. (a) Experts use breadth-first approaches to debugging and, at the same time, adopt a system view of the problem area. (b) Experts are proficient at chunking programs and hence display smooth-flowing approaches to debugging. 2. (a) Novices use breadth-first approaches to debugging but are deficient in their ability to think in system terms. (b) Novices use depth-first approaches to debugging. (c) Novices are less proficient at chunking programs and hence display erratic approaches to debugging.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2451/14532
Appears in Collections:IOMS: Information Systems Working Papers

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