Understanding the Compatibility of Pair Programmers

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Title: Understanding the Compatibility of Pair Programmers
Author: Katira, Neha Anupkumar
Advisors: Dr. Jason Osborne, Committee Member
Dr. Laurie Williams, Committee Chair
Dr. Edward Gehringer, Committee Member
Abstract: As pair programming is gaining broad acceptance in software engineering, programmers in academia and industry desire to work with compatible partners. Computer science instructors wish to proactively form student pairs to increase the likelihood of compatible pairs. This research investigates patterns that predict pair compatibility, and is aimed at improving the chances of forming mutually compatible pairs in academia and industry. Female and minority students are under-represented in computer science. To make the programming experience of these under-represented groups more satisfactory, an analysis of the factors that possibly impact the compatibility of female and minority student pair programmers were conducted at the North Carolina State University. A structured experiment involving 1053 undergraduate and 112 graduate students was carried out at the North Carolina State University to understand and predict pair compatibility. Additionally, 72 students were included later in the study to examine their work ethic and time management preferences. Three hundred and thirty nine industry pair programmers participated in the experiment by responding to a formal survey. Analysis of the results indicates that students are more compatible with partners whom they perceive of similar skill level, although instructors cannot proactively manage these pairs. Pairing two female students in a pair is likely to result in a compatible pair in the undergraduate classroom, while mixed gender pairs are less likely to perceive compatibility. The higher the programming self-esteem of the undergraduate software engineering students, the more likely they are to be compatible with their partner, while the higher the programming self-esteem of the graduate female students, the less likely it is they perceive compatibility. The greater the difference in the midterm of pair (OO majority), the more likely it is that they perceive compatibility with their partner. As the difference in the GPA of the OO minority students with their partner increases, the less likely they are to perceive compatibility. With undergraduate software engineering students and freshman minority students, the higher their programming self-esteem, the more likely they are to perceive compatibility with their partner. We also observe as the difference in the SAT of the pair increases in the SE class, the less likely they are to perceive compatibility. Pair programmers in the industry perceive compatibility with a partner, who has a similar work ethic. A majority of the respondents believed that a significant benefit of pairing with a compatible partner is that the programming experience is more enjoyable, while a major setback of pairing with an incompatible partner is that it makes the programming experience less enjoyable.
Date: 2005-11-01
Degree: MS
Discipline: Computer Science
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2502


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