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.

All IASESE participants must be sure to bring some paper or a notebook, pen or pencil, and a laptop if possible (not mandatory, but highly recommended).


8:30am                Introductions

Who’s in the room?

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


9:30am                 Overview of Observation Methods

Design Decisions and the Observation Protocol

10am                    Coffee

10:30am              Exercise: Creating a protocol

12noon                Lunch

1:30pm                Participant Observation



2:15pm                Think-aloud observation



3pm                      Coffee

3:30pm                Observation data analysis

Basics of coding

Exercise: Analysis of field notes

Exercise: Analysis of video

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