Experience from measuring program comprehension - toward a general framework
ISSN der Zeitschrift
Software Engineering 2013
Regular Research Papers
Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.
Program comprehension plays a crucial role during the software-development life cycle: Maintenance programmers spend most of their time with comprehending source code, and maintenance is the main cost factor in software development. Thus, if we can improve program comprehension, we can save considerable amount of time and cost. To improve program comprehension, we have to measure it first. However, program comprehension is a complex, internal cognitive process that we cannot observe directly. Typically, we need to conduct controlled experiments to soundly measure program comprehension. However, empirical research is applied only reluctantly in software engineering. To close this gap, we set out to support researchers in planning and conducting experiments regarding program comprehension. We report our experience with experiments that we conducted and present the resulting framework to support researchers in planning and conducting experiments. Additionally, we discuss the role of teaching for the empirical researchers of tomorrow.