Towards Grounded Theory Perspectives of Cognitive Load in Software Engineering

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceedingResearchpeer-review


Background: The socio-technical characteristic of software engineering is acknowledged by many, while the technical side still dominates research. As software engineering is a human-intensive activity, the cognitive side of software engineering needs more exploration when trying to improve its efficiency.
Aim: The aim of this study is to increase the understanding of the impact of cognitive load in software engineering. Our ultimate goal is to theorize the knowledge and thereby reveal opportunities to make software engineering more efficient for companies and compelling for the developers to engage in.
Method: We synthesize knowledge, using a grounded theory approach, from our empirical observations and literature on cognitive load in software engineering, using cognitive load theory as a stepping stone and theoretical filter.
Results: We present a grounded theory of cognitive load in software engineering, emerging from the analysis, which classifies cognitive load drivers into eight perspectives – task, environment, information, tool, communication, interruption, structure and temporal – each of which is further detailed.
Conclusion: We intend to use this theory as a starting point for further generation of theory to be used in the design of software engineering tools, methods and organizational structures to improve efficiency and developer satisfaction by reducing the cognitive load.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychology of Programming Interest Group (PPIG)
Subtitle of host publication32nd Annual Workshop
Publisher Psychology of Programming Interest Group
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun 22
EventPsychology of Programming Interest Group Annual Workshop 2021 - Online
Duration: 2021 Jun 212021 Jun 25


ConferencePsychology of Programming Interest Group Annual Workshop 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Software Engineering


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