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The Role of Domain Expenence in Software Design

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2 Author(s)
B. Adelson ; Department of Computer Science, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, and the Division of Information Science and Technology, National Science Foundation ; E. Soloway

A designer's expertise rests on the knowledge and skills which develop with experience in a domain. As a result, when a designer is designing an object in an unfamiliar domain he will not have the same knowledge and skills available to him as when he is designing an object in a familiar domain. In this paper we look at the software designer's underlying constellation of knowledge and skills, and at the way in which this constellation is dependent upon experience in a domain. What skills drop out, what skills, or interactions of skills come forward as experience with the domain changes? To answer the above question, we studied expert designers in experimentally created design contexts with which they were differentially familiar. In this paper we describe the knowledge and skills we found were central to each of the above contexts and discuss the functional utility of each. In addition to discussing the knowledge and skills we observed in expert designers, we will also compare novice and expert behavior.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  (Volume:SE-11 ,  Issue: 11 )