Debugging: finding, fixing and flailing, a multi-institutional study of novice debuggers

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dc.contributor.author Fitzgerald, Sue
dc.contributor.author Lewandowski, Gary
dc.contributor.author McCauley, Renee
dc.contributor.author Murphy, Laurie
dc.contributor.author Simon, Beth
dc.contributor.author Thomas, Lynda
dc.contributor.author Zander, Carol
dc.date.accessioned 2009-01-26T11:53:46Z
dc.date.available 2009-01-26T11:53:46Z
dc.date.issued 2008-06-01
dc.identifier.citation Fitzgerald , S , Lewandowski , G , McCauley , R , Murphy , L , Simon , B , Thomas , L & Zander , C 2008 , ' Debugging: finding, fixing and flailing, a multi-institutional study of novice debuggers ' Computer Science Education , vol 18 , no. 2 , pp. 93-116 . en
dc.identifier.issn 0899-3408
dc.identifier.other PURE: 98813
dc.identifier.other dspace: 2160/1864
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2160/1864
dc.identifier.uri http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/ncse/2008/00000018/00000002/art00003 en
dc.description Fitzgerald, Sue, Lewandowski, Gary, McCauley, Renée, Murphy, Laurie, Simon, Beth, Thomas, Lynda and Zander, Carol(2008) 'Debugging: finding, fixing and flailing, a multi-institutional study of novice debuggers’ Computer Science Education,18:2, 93-116 Special Issue: Debugging by Novice Programmers en
dc.description.abstract Debugging is often difficult and frustrating for novices. Yet because students typically debug outside the classroom and often in isolation, instructors rarely have the opportunity to closely observe students while they debug. This paper describes the details of an exploratory study of the debugging skills and behaviors of contemporary novice Java programmers. Based on a modified replication of Katz and Anderson's study of novices, we sought to broadly survey the modern landscape of novice debugging abilities. As such, this study reports general quantitative results and fills in the picture with qualitative detail from a relatively small, but varied sample. Comprehensive interviews involving both a programming and a debugging task, followed by a semi-structured interview and a questionnaire, were conducted with 21 CS2 students at seven colleges and universities. While many subjects successfully debugged a representative set of typical CS1 bugs, there was a great deal of variation in their success at the programming and debugging tasks. Most of the students who were good debuggers were good novice programmers, although not all of the good programmers were successful at debugging. Students employed a variety of strategies to find 70% of all bugs and of the bugs they found they were able to fix 97% of them. They had the most difficulty with malformed statements, such as arithmetic errors and incorrect loop conditions. Our results confirm many findings from previous studies (some quite old) - most notably that once students find bugs, they can fix them. However, the results also suggest that some changes have occurred in the student population, particularly an increased use of debugging tools and online resources, as well as the use of pattern matching, which has not previously been reported. en
dc.format.extent 24 en
dc.language.iso eng
dc.relation.ispartof Computer Science Education en
dc.subject debugging en
dc.subject novice programmers en
dc.subject debugging strategies en
dc.subject bugs en
dc.subject programming errors en
dc.subject CS1 en
dc.subject pedagogy en
dc.title Debugging: finding, fixing and flailing, a multi-institutional study of novice debuggers en
dc.type Text en
dc.type.publicationtype Special issue (Journal) en
dc.identifier.doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08993400802114508
dc.contributor.institution Department of Computer Science en
dc.contributor.institution Software Engineering en
dc.description.status Peer reviewed en


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