G. Bergersen and Jan-E. Gustafsson (2011)

Programming Skill, Knowledge and Working Memory Among Professional Software Developers from an Investment Theory Perspective

Journal of Individual Differences 32(4):201-209

This study investigates the role of working memory and experience in the development of programming knowledge and programming skill. An instrument for assessing programming skill where skill is inferred from programming performance was administered along with tests of working memory and programming knowledge. We hired 65 professional software developers from nine companies in eight European countries to participate in a two-day study. Results indicate that the effect of working memory and experience on programming skill is mediated through programming knowledge. Programming knowledge was further found to explain individual differences in programming skill to a large extent. The overall findings support Cattell’s investment theory. Further, we discuss how this study, which currently serves a pilot function, can be extended in future studies. Although low statistical power is a concern for some of the results reported, this work contributes to research on individual differences in high-realism work settings with professionals as subjects.
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