Spreadsheet bibliography

Title Harnessing curiosity to increase correctness in end-user programming
Authors Aaron Wilson, Margaret Burnett, Laura Beckwith, Orion Granatir, Ledah Casburn, Curtis Cook, Mike Durham, & Gregg Rothermel
Year 2003
Type Proceedings
Publication Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Series April, pages 305-312
Abstract

Despite their ability to help with program correctness, assertions have been notoriously unpopular—even with professional programmers. End-user programmers seem even less likely to appreciate the value of assertions; yet end-user programs suffer from serious correctness problems that assertions could help detect.

This leads to the following question: can end users be enticed to enter assertions? To investigate this question, we have devised a curiosity-centered approach to eliciting assertions from end users, built on a surprise-explain-reward strategy.

Our follow-up work with end-user participants shows that the approach is effective in encouraging end users to enter assertions that help them find errors.

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Sample
Five explanation examples
Five explanation examples

In our strategy a feature that surprises a user must inform the user. We have devised an on-demand explanation system structured around each object that might arouse curiosity.

Users can begin exploring the object by viewing its explanation, on demand, in a low-cost way via tool tips:

  • 1. To protect against bad values, type a guard (range) such as 0 to 10 or double-click.
  • 2. The value must not conflict with its guard(s). To resolve the conflict, fix an error in a formula or in a [user] guard.
  • 3. The computer's testing caused it to wonder if this would be a good guard. Fix the guard to protect against bad values, by typing a range or double-clicking.
  • 4. All guards must agree. To make them agree, fix an error in a formula or in a [user] guard.
  • 5. Computer guards tell you what the value will be. The computer determined this guard from the formulas and guards you entered.