Brown CS alum Guillaume Marceau, Professor Kathi Fisler, and Professor Shriram Krishnamurthi have just received the Onward! 2011 Most Notable Paper Award. This honor is given annually to the authors of a paper that was presented at the Onward! conference, an international event focusing on everything to do with programming and software. The papers are judged based on the influence they have had and their impact over the last ten years.
The paper, “Mind Your Language: On Novices' Interactions with Error Messages,” explored beginning students’ reaction to error messages. Error messages can provide guidance to programmers while working and at the same time frustrate them because of the difficulty that comes with deciphering these messages. Using the programming language DrRacket, the paper studied how students respond to the vocabulary used in error messages. The paper found several problems with the understandability of messages, and presented recommendations to language developers and educators that have since had a significant impact on error message presentation. The paper was originally inspired by a “talk-aloud study” and in particular, one student’s remark on the confusing error messages they inevitably come across. Guillaume, Kathi, and Shriram’s research on error messages offered valuable insights into “one of the most critical user experience elements for programmers,” according to their paper.
To read the full paper, click here.
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication and Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.