PPIG 2005 - 17th Annual Workshop
Graphical visualisations and debugging: a detailed process analysis
Pablo Romero, Benedict du Boulay, Richard Cox, Rudi Lutz, Sallyann Bryant
Abstract: This paper investigates the question of how programmers exploit and integrate multiple sources of information. In particular it analyses how undergraduate computer science students used the multiple representations available in a software debugging environment (SDE). This environment allowed them to view the execution of a program in steps and provided them with concurrently displayed, adjacent, multiple and linked representations. These programming representations comprised the program code, two visualisations of it and its output. This investigation studied debugging strategy in terms of rich process data about the use made of the representations available in the SDE and stepping facility. These data comprised computer interaction logs, audio recordings and data about visual attention focus.
The experimental results suggest that graphical representations seemed to promote a more efficient use of the available visualisations and were therefore associated with a relatively low level of interaction. This paper discusses these results and their implications for programming instruction.