Applying Human Values Theory to Software Engineering Practice:Lessons and Implications

Ferrario, Maria Angela and Winter, Emily (2023) Applying Human Values Theory to Software Engineering Practice:Lessons and Implications. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 49 (3). pp. 973-990. ISSN 0098-5589

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The study of human values in software engineering (SE) is increasingly recognised as a fundamental human-centric issue of SE decision making. However, values studies in SE still face a number of issues, including the difficulty of eliciting values in a systematic and structured way, the challenges of measuring and tracking values over time, and the lack of practice-based understanding of values among software practitioners. This paper aims to help address these issues by: 1) outlining a research framework that supports a systematic approach to values elicitation, analysis, and understanding; 2) introducing tools and techniques that help elicit and measure values during SE decision making processes in a systematic way; and 3) applying such tools to a month-long research sprint co-designed with an industry partner and conducted with 27 software practitioners. The case study builds on lessons from an earlier pilot (12 participants) and combines in-situ observations with the use of two values-informed tools: the Values Q-Sort (V-QS), and the Values-Retro. The V-QS adapts values-studies instruments to the SE context, the Values-Retro adapts existing SE techniques to values theory. We distil implications for research and practice in ten lessons learned.

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Journal Article
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IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
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05 May 2022 11:50
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:29