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Chun Yong Chong, Patanamon Thongtanunam, Chakkrit Tantithamthavorn

International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE)

Code review is a widely-used practice in software development companies to identify defects. Hence, code review has been included in many software engineering curricula at universities worldwide. However, teaching code review is still a challenging task because the code review effectiveness depends on the code reading and analytical skills of a reviewer. While several studies have investigated the code reading techniques that students should use to find defects during code review, little has focused on a learning activity that involves analytical skills. Indeed, developing a code review checklist should stimulate students to develop their analytical skills to anticipate potential issues (i.e., software defects). Yet, it is unclear whether students can anticipate potential issues given their limited experience in software development (programming, testing, etc.). We perform a qualitative analysis to investigate whether students are capable of creating code review checklists, and if the checklists can be used to guide reviewers to find defects. In addition, we identify common mistakes that students make when developing a code review checklist. Our results show that while there are some misconceptions among students about the purpose of code review, students are able to anticipate potential defects and create a relatively good code review checklist. Hence, our results lead us to conclude that developing a code review checklist can be a part of the learning activities for code review in order to scaffold students' skills.