Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.585475
Title: The impact of feedback on the motivation of software engineers
Author: Sach, Rien
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2013
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Abstract:
This research investigates how feedback affects the motivation of software engineers and develops a model of feedback in software engineering. Motivation has been reported as having an impact on software engineers’ productivity, the quality of the software they produce, the overall success of a software development project, and on the retention of software engineers. Findings from the last 30 years of research investigating motivation in software engineering have identified several factors that influence the motivation of software engineers, but the impact of each individual factor remains unclear. Feedback was identified as a factor affecting motivation by several studies investigating motivation in software engineering. Several theories of motivation exist which identify factors affecting motivation and models of how motivation is affected. Feedback is identified as a factor in four theories of motivation. In 2008 a systematic literature review identified that the majority of previous studies investigating motivation in software engineering were not grounded in motivation theory. This suggests that the majority of previous research investigating motivation in software engineering has not adequately considered theories of motivation and their relevance in software engineering. This research explored the importance of feedback and the effect of the characteristics of feedback on the motivation of software engineers, collecting their thoughts, perceptions, reflections and reactions to feedback using a range of different research methods. The research began with a preliminary study investigating how software engineers perceived feedback, and if the characteristics they identified were comparable to those identified in other disciplines, notably clinical education. Further studies followed by investigating feedback in software engineering, the short-term impact of received feedback, and the effect of the ‘source’ and ‘medium’ feedback characteristics. The findings of the preliminary study were that software engineers identified characteristics of feedback comparable to those found in clinical education, which gave a basis for further studies. Software engineers reported that feedback was the most common method of tracking their individual progress in a software project. A diary study collecting instances of feedback reported by software engineers found that positive feedback typically increased the engineers’ job satisfaction, and that negative feedback typically led to a change in their behaviour. Building on the earlier findings of this research, a scenario study and an online survey combining both scenarios and questions investigated the effect of the source and medium feedback characteristics. The findings of the four studies identified that the feedback recipient’s values and perceptions of the feedback source, and any preference they had to the medium used to send the feedback, affected the impact of received feedback. The findings suggested that the feedback software engineers report as the most valuable is not the same as feedback reported as having the most impact. The findings suggest that in software engineering, theories of motivation do not adequately consider the impact of the characteristics of feedback and the effect of different forms of feedback on motivation. A model of feedback in software engineering was identified by combining the findings of the four empirical studies and relevant literature. The model captures how feedback is experienced by software engineers. Software engineers perceive the characteristics of the received feedback, which provides information that is used to make several assessments about the feedback. Each engineer’s individual value set influences their assessments, and their current state of mind / mood / emotions affect the engineer’s perceptions, assessments, and individual value set. The assessments of the feedback then result in the impact of the received feedback, which can have an effect on the engineer’s attitude, behaviour, motivation, performance, job satisfaction, and feelings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.585475  DOI: Not available
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