Long Term Comprehension of Software Systems: A Methodology for Study

Chris R. Douce

Studies of software comprehension often use short-term recall as a way to study comprehension. Experiments range from broad descriptions of program purpose to tests that require subject to ‘fill in the gaps’. There is little doubt that human memory is a very important issue when it comes to understanding how software systems work. This paper addresses the topic of ‘long term’ comprehension, namely, the retention of programming knowledge over a period of months, years or even decades. Long-term retention of programming knowledge is thought to be an area within the psychology of programming literature that has received surprisingly little attention. To stimulate debate, methodological issues that may affect the study of long-term comprehension are detailed. Finally, a planned experiment based upon related psychology of programming studies is outlined.

Type of Publication: Paper
Conference: PPIG 2001 - 13th Annual Workshop
Publication Year: 2001
Paper #: 12
TitleLong Term Comprehension of Software Systems: A Methodology for Study
Publication TypePaper
AuthorsDouce, CR
PPIG Workshop: 
2001-04-13th