A longitudinal cohort study on the retainment of test-driven development

Davide Fucci, Simone Romano, Maria Teresa Baldassarre, Danilo Caivano, Giuseppe Scanniello, Burak Turhan, Natalia Juristo

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Background: Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an agile software development practice, which is claimed to boost both external quality of software products and developers' productivity. Aims: We want to study: (i) the TDD effects on the external quality of software products as well as the developers' productivity; and (ii) the retainment of TDD over a period of five months. Method: We conducted a (quantitative) longitudinal cohort study with 30 third-year undergraduate students in Computer Science at the University of Bari in Italy. Results: The use of TDD has a statistically significant effect neither on the external quality of software products nor on the developers' productivity. However, we observed that participants using TDD produced significantly more tests than those applying a non-TDD development process, and that the retainment of TDD is particularly noticeable in the amount of tests written. Conclusions: Our results should encourage software companies to adopt TDD because who practices TDD tends to write more tests - -having more tests can come in handy when testing software systems or localizing faults - -and it seems that novice developers retain TDD.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 12th ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement, ESEM 2018
Subtitle of host publicationOctober 11-12, 2018, Oulu, Finland
EditorsDaniel Méndez, Audris Mockus
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450358231
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2018 - Oulu, Finland
Duration: 11 Oct 201812 Oct 2018
Conference number: 12th


ConferenceInternational Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement 2018
Abbreviated titleESEM 2018
Internet address


  • Longitudinal cohort study
  • Test-driven development

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