Coming Up with Interesting Research Questions, and Idea #1

So my supervisor Greg Wilson has challenged myself and fellow grad student Zuzel to try to come up with one idea for a study per day until our next meeting.

I’ve been researching the use of code reviews in CS undergraduate classes, and this is what my ideas will center around.

My first idea is a knock-off of one that Jorge Aranda performed a while back:

Take a group of students, and tell them that they will all be working together on an assignment. Give them a spec for their assignment.  Get a time estimate in hours as to how long they think they will need to complete the assignment.

Take a second group of students (who were not present when the first group was around), and tell them that they will be working together on an assignment.  Give them the same spec that the first group had.  Tell them that they will need to use a peer code review tool like ReviewBoard for every commit.  Get a time estimate on how long they will need to complete the assignment.

Compare the two sets of estimates.

I predict that the second set will have a higher range of values.  I wouldn’t find that surprising.  I’m more interested in how much higher the estimates are.

I remember my first reaction to using ReviewBoard on MarkUs:  This’ll slow us down.  We don’t have time for this.

I’m curious if others feel the same way.

One thought on “Coming Up with Interesting Research Questions, and Idea #1

  1. David Wolever

    I’m sure you’ve thought of this… But what *I* would be interested in seeing is not how much their *estimates* differ (let’s face it, undergrads (and grads (and PHDs (and profs))) can’t estimate for crap), but what the time difference is between the *actual* implementation time between the two groups (ie, how long the code-review group took VS how long the no-code-review group took).

    Of course, this is more tricky, because then they’ve actually got to do work… But still.

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