Assessing the students' understanding and their mistakes in code review checklists: an experience report of 1,791 code review checklist questions from 394 Students

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Code review is a widely-used practice in software development companies to identify defects. Hence, code review has been included in many software engineering curricula at universities worldwide. However, teaching code review is still a challenging task because the code review effectiveness depends on the code reading and analytical skills of a reviewer. While several studies have investigated the code reading techniques that students should use to find defects during code review, little has focused on a learning activity that involves analytical skills. Indeed, developing a code review checklist should stimulate students to develop their analytical skills to anticipate potential issues (i.e., software defects). Yet, it is unclear whether students can anticipate potential issues given their limited experience in software development (programming, testing, etc.). We perform a qualitative analysis to investigate whether students are capable of creating code review checklists, and if the checklists can be used to guide reviewers to find defects. In addition, we identify common mistakes that students make when developing a code review checklist. Our results show that while there are some misconceptions among students about the purpose of code review, students are able to anticipate potential defects and create a relatively good code review checklist. Hence, our results lead us to conclude that developing a code review checklist can be a part of the learning activities for code review in order to scaffold students' skills.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE/ACM 43rd International Conference on Software Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationJoint Track on Software Engineering Education and Training, ICSE-JSEET 2021
EditorsHakan Erdogmus, Ana M. Moreno
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780738133201
ISBN (Print)9781665401388
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
EventInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2021: Joint Track on Software Engineering Education and Training - Online, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 25 May 202128 May 2021
Conference number: 43rd (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2021
Abbreviated titleICSE-JSEET 2021
OtherTrack within the International Conference on Software Engineering
Internet address


  • Assessment Methods for Software Quality Assurance
  • Checklist-based Code Review
  • Software Engineering Education

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