Towards Understanding Communication Structure in Pair Programming

(Research paper, 30 min) [ Slides ]

Author(s): Kai Stapel, Eric Knauss, Kurt Schneider and Matthias Becker (Leibniz Universit├Ąt Hannover)
Session: Developer Interaction
Session chair: Anders Haugeto (Iterate)
Date: Thursday, 3 June 2010: Main Conference
Time: 13:30-15:00
Pair Programming has often been reported to be beneficial in software projects. To better understand where these benefits come from we evaluate the aspect of intra-pair communication. Under the as- sumption that the benefits stem from the information being exchanged, it is important to analyze the types of information being communicated. Based on the Goal Question Metric method we derive a set of relevant metrics and apply them in an eXtreme Programming class room project. Data covering a total of 22.9 hours of intra-pair communication was col- lected. We found that only 7% of the conversations were off-topic (e.g. private), 11% about requirements, 14% about design, and 68% about implementation details (e.g. syntax). Accordingly, a great share of the information being exchanged in Pair Programming is on a low level of abstraction. These results represent a first data point on what kind of information is communicated to what extent during Pair Programming.

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