PPIG 2001 - 13th Annual Workshop
Long Term Comprehension of Software Systems : A Methodology for Study
C. R. Douce
Abstract: 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.