International Advanced School on Empirical Software Engineering (IASESE) 2019

Observation as a Data Collection Technique
for Software Engineering Research

Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brazil


Facilitator:  Carolyn Seaman from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), USA

Summary: This full-day school will cover several different observation techniques, including think-aloud,
shadowing, and participant observation, in particular how they can be used to study software
development teams. We will also talk about choices to be made in the design of an observation study,
specific data collection and analysis techniques, and some common pitfalls. There will be some lecture,
but also a lot of open discussion and hands-on exercises.


Introductions (1 hour)

Who’s in the room?

What is observation and why are we spending a day on this topic?


Overview of Observation Methods (15 minutes)

Design Decisions and the Observation Protocol (45 minutes)

Exercise: Creating a protocol (1 hour)

Lunch (2 hours)

Participant Observation

Overview (15 minutes)

Exercise (45 minutes)

Think-aloud observation

Overview (15 minutes)

Exercise (45 minutes)

Observation data analysis

Basics of coding (30 minutes)

Exercise: Analysis of field notes (30 minutes)

Exercise: Analysis of video (1 hour)

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