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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Pair Programming in an Educational Setting

For the most part, students do pair programming in much the same way as do practitioners. In this section, we discuss some pair programming practices specifically used with students and cite results of using pair programming in educational literature.

Practices Specific to Education

The teaching staff may allow the students to choose their partners [Cicirello 2009], [Jacobson and Schaefer 2008], or the teaching staff may proactively form student pairs that are most likely to work well together. Those that select pairs may use heuristics to guide them in forming pairs most likely to be effective. One study indicates that heterogeneous pairs formed of a male and a female had high quality and more creative solutions [Mujeeb-u-Rehman et al. 2005]. A study of 58 undergraduates indicates pairs work best if they rate themselves similarly when asked about their open-mindedness and level of responsibility [Chao and Atli 2006]. Another study of 54 undergraduates demonstrated a positive correlation between conscientiousness and assignment scores and between “openness to experience” and test performance based upon the Five Factor Model [Salleh et al. 2009].

A large empirical study of more than 1,350 students was conducted to examine factors the teaching staff can use to proactively form pairs that are most likely to be compatible [Williams et al. 2006]. The study indicated that most often (93% of pairs) students report being compatible with their partners. ...

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