Disengagement in pair programming: does it matter?

Author(s): L. Plonka, H. Sharp, J. van der Linden
Venue: International Conference on Software Engineering
Date: 2012

Type of Experiement: Controlled Experiment
Sample Size: 31
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Participant Selection: Voluntary
Data Collection Method: Observation


In this article, Plonka, Sharp, and van der Linden explore disengagement between developers in pair programming and conclude that it is harmful for expert-novice pairs and happens when expert developers are pressed for time, which reduces knowledge transfer to the novice. The study is based on four one-week studies of industry pair programming session from four different companies, each using agile methodology. To mitigate disengagement, they suggest that the novice should be encouraged to drive and providing enough explanation during work if the novice has dropped out from mutual engagement during coding. They also suggest that maintaining a state of engagement is necessary to successfully conduct pair programming and achieve their goals.