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An objective approach to exploring skill differences in strategies of computer program comprehension

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An experiment was conducted to examine skill differences in the control strategy for computer program comprehension. A computer program along with its hierarchy of program plans was provided to 10 intermediate and 10 novice computer programmers. Each program plan is known as a program segment to the subjects. A random list of plan goals was also provided to the subjects. The subjects were asked to match each program segment with its goal while they were comprehending the program. Several measures of the subjects' performance and control strategy were collected and analysed. The results indicated the use of an overall top-down strategy by both intermediates and novices for program comprehension. Novices' control strategies involved more opportunistic elements than experts' in the overall top-down process of program comprehension. Those differences in the control strategy between intermediates and novices result in better performance in intermediates than novices.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1996-05-01

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