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Department of Informatics Human Aspects of Software Engineering Lab

Human Aspects of Software Engineering 2021


  • This course is an in-person class, attendance is expected (and required for the discussions).
  • For the readings we will use Perusall. Make sure to create an account and sign up for the course specified in OLAT.
  • The intro slides are online Intro slides (PDF, 4 MB).
  • The intro session will also be on Zoom (see OLAT for details).

Course Description

Producing great software as fast as the market demands requires great, productive developers. Yet, what does it mean for an individual developer to be productive, and how can we best help developers to be productive? To answer these questions, researchers in software engineering have been, and are still predominantly looking at the output that software developers create, such as the applications, the source code, or the test cases. This output-oriented focus misses one of the most essential parts in the process of software development: the individual developer who creates the software.

Recent advances in technology afford the opportunity to collect a wide variety of detailed information on a software developer and their work, ranging from the number of resolved work items all the way to the cognitive load the developer experiences while working. The availability and accessibility of data on each developer are enabling us to explore questions about developer productivity in powerful new ways.

In this course, we investigate how we can ensure the human ingenuity and smarts are being amplified by the processes and tools used to create systems, rather than the humans spending precious cognitive effort dealing with mundane or unnecessary problems.

This is an overview of the kinds of topics we will cover:

  • quantitative and qualitative evaluation of SE research
  • developer retrospection and productivity
  • (biometric) sensing in software development
  • work fragmentation and interruptions
  • code navigation & exploration
  • program comprehension
  • software development tools and environments.

This module takes place in person, class attendance is expected. Materials are made available online.

In this course, you will be reading and commenting on research papers, leading interactive paper discussion(s), critiquing papers, participating in peer reviews, and undertaking a small research project. The project component will be flexible but will likely involve some programming/analysis and forms an integral part of this course. The outcome of the project will be a short research paper. Depending on the class size, the projects may be completed in groups of up to three. The intent of the project is to get students to think about a research problem, identify a research question, investigate it and write it up.


Thomas Fritz (Instructor)


Anastasia Ruvimova (Assistant)


Organizational Aspects

Lecture Day and Time Mo 10:15-11:45
Location BIN-2.A.10
Credits 6.0
MINF4532 VVZ Link

Grading Scheme

This course will be a project and paper-based course. The research project is the primary artifact of the course; the outcome of all projects will be a research paper. To pass this course, you must pass the research project (obtain at least 50%) and must obtain a 50% overall mark that is based on the following:

  • 65%: Project, including continuous progress, meetings, write-ups (including final proposal and intermediate report), and presentation;
  • 35%: Readings, including active reading and collective annotations and discussions (Perusall), response papers, class participation, leading discussion (in-person class attendance is mandatory), and peer reviews of project reports.