Photo of the week: what helps and hinders computer programmers?
In our next ‘photo of the week’, we are looking at research investigating how computer programmers are affected by the way their peers approach their work. This research is being led by BU’s Gail Ollis.
Many programmers may be able to write the software, but writing is only the beginning. For the rest of its lifecycle software will need to be read and understood, often by others, in order to fix problems or add new features. But among programmers with similar education and experience, individuals demonstrate quite different levels of ability to produce ‘team-friendly’ work that is straightforward for their peers to work with.
This image shows materials that have been used in a card sorting exercise to help research participants, all experienced programmers, explore the variety of ways in which they are helped or hindered in this work by the behaviour of others. It includes a card that proved unexpectedly significant.
Despite the demands that answering questions can place on a participant’s time, “Is willing to ask questions” were placed among the most helpful characteristics a peer can have because it creates an informal opportunity for review. The finished work is less likely to make sense to others if it is written by someone working in isolation, never exposing their thoughts and questions.
For more information about the project, email Gail for further details.
This was an entry to BU’s first research photography competition and the entries for the next competition will be open shortly. For more details about the competition, please email email@example.com