AuthorsM. Jørgensen, G. Bergersen and K. Liestøl
Titleelations Between Effort Estimates, Skill Indicators, and Measured Programming Skill (A Journal first conference publication)
AfilliationSoftware Engineering
Project(s)Department of IT Management
Publication TypeProceedings, refereed
Year of Publication2021
Conference NameCM Joint European Software Engineering Conference and Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE)

There are large skill differences among software developers, and clients and managers will benefit from being able to identify those with better skill. This study examines the relations between low effort estimates, and other commonly used skill indicators, and measured programming skill. One hundred and four professional software developers were recruited. After skill-related information was collected, they were asked to estimate the effort for four larger and five smaller programming tasks. Finally, they completed a programming skill test. The lowest and most over-optimistic effort estimates for the larger tasks were given by those with the lowest programming skill, which is in accordance with the well-known Dunning-Kruger effect. For the smaller tasks, however, those with the lowest programming skill had the highest and most over-pessimistic estimates. The other programming skill indicators, such as length of experience, company assessed skill and self-assessed skill, were only moderately correlated with measured skill and not particularly useful in guiding developer skill identification. A practical implication is that for larger and more complex tasks, the use of low effort estimates and commonly used skill indicators as selection criteria leads to a substantial risk of selecting among the least skilled developers.

Citation Key27934