Introducing Programmers to Pair Programming: A Controlled Experiment

A. S. M. Sajeev and Subhajit Datta

Research Paper


Pair programming is a key characteristic of the Extreme Programming method. Through a controlled experiment we investigate pair programming behaviour of programmers without prior experience in XP. The factors investigated are: (a) characteristics of pair programming that are less favored (b) perceptions of team effectiveness and how they relate to product quality, and (c) whether it is better to train a pair by giving routine tasks first or by giving complex tasks first.

Our results show that: (a) the least liked aspects of pair programming were having to share the screen, keyboard and mouse, and having to switch between the roles of driver and navigator (b) programmers solved complex problems more effectively in pairs compared to routine problems, however, perceptions of team effectiveness was higher when solving routine problems than when solving complex problems and (c) programmers who started pair programming with routine tasks and moved on to complex tasks were more effective than those who started with complex ones and moved on to routine ones. We discuss how these results will assist the industry in inducting programmers without prior pair-programming experience into XP process environments.



Professor A. S. M. Sajeev holds a bachelor degree with first class honours in Electrical Engineering from Cochin University (India), a MTech with Honours in Computer Science from the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta and a PhD in Computer Science from Monash University, Australia. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia. Sajeev is currently the Chair in IT/Computer Science at the University of New England, Armidale, Australia. Previously, he has taught at the University of Newcastle, Australia and Monash University, Australia. His research interests include empirical software engineering, mobile systems and business information systems.

University of New England, Australia,,


Subhajit Datta has nearly a decade and half of experience in software development, design, research, and teaching across different organizations in India, the United States of America, and now Singapore. Subhajit received his Ph.D. and M.S in computer science from the Florida State University and his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Jadavpur University. He is the author of the books Software Engineering: Concepts and Applications (Oxford University Press, 2010) and Metrics-Driven Enterprise Software Development (J.Ross Publishing, 2007) and numerous research publications. Latest information about his interests and activities are available at:

Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore,,