Novice Software Developers, All Over Again

ICER '08: Proceedings of the Fourth International Workshop on Computing Education Research |

Published by ACM

View Publication

Transitions from novice to expert often cause stress and anxiety and require specialized instruction and support to enact efficiently. While many studies have looked at novice computer science students, very little research has been conducted on professional novices. We conducted a two-month insitu qualitative case study of new software developers in their first six months working at Microsoft. We shadowed them in all aspects of their jobs: coding, debugging, designing, and engaging with their team, and analyzed the types of tasks in which they engage. We can explain many of the behaviors revealed by our analyses if viewed through the lens of newcomer socialization from the field of organizational management. This new perspective also enables us to better understand how current computer science pedagogy prepares students for jobs in the software industry. We consider the implications of this data and analysis for developing new processes for learning in both university and industrial settings to help accelerate the transition from novice to expert software developer.