Predicting Understandability of a Software Project: A Comparison of Two Surveys

Keywords Empirical study COCOMO II model drivers survey understandability
Standards groups

This survey comprised a one-page questionnaire [7] that was self contained
in the sense that it provided all the background information needed to fill the survey. In particular, it provided the definition of understandability being used in this context as well as the description of each of the eight COCOMO II model drivers. This was done to minimize guesswork and prevent confusion due
to multiple conflicting interpretations. The questionnaire asked the participants to rank each of the eight relevant COCOMO II model drivers on a scale of 1 (least
important) to 5 (most important). The option of labeling a model driver as “not applicable” was also provided. In addition to this, the participants were allowed to identify other drivers they considered important in determining the understandability of a software project. Furthermore, space was provided for open-ended comments.

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This paper summarizes the results of an empirical study conducted to explore the relative importance of eight pertinent COCOMO II model drivers in predicting the understandability of a software project. Here understandability of the project is measured solely from the perspective of the development team. This empirical study employed a survey that was targeted towards experienced practitioners. Results from this survey are compared with the corresponding results from a prior similar survey conducted on graduate students. While this comparison reveals some interesting differences between the importance given to each of the eight model drivers by these two categories of individuals it also highlights some subtle similarities.

University of Southern California
Ali Afzal Malik
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