FACTOR-BASED EVALUATION FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATING THE USABILITY OF SOFTWARE PROCESS DESCRIPTIONS

Mohd Naz'ri Mahrin (2010). FACTOR-BASED EVALUATION FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATING THE USABILITY OF SOFTWARE PROCESS DESCRIPTIONS PhD Thesis, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mohd Naz'ri Mahrin
Thesis Title FACTOR-BASED EVALUATION FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATING THE USABILITY OF SOFTWARE PROCESS DESCRIPTIONS
School, Centre or Institute School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-05
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Assoc. Prof. David Carrington
Total pages 216
Total colour pages 23
Total black and white pages 193
Subjects 08 Information and Computing Sciences
Abstract/Summary Usability is an important quality attribute to be considered during the design and development of software process descriptions (SPDs). The demand for usable SPDs is high but in practice, SPDs suffer from usability problems. As a result, SPDs are often difficult to understand and enact by process performers. In this research, we propose a framework for evaluating the usability of SPDs based on a set of usability factors. The goal of the framework is to support software process engineers systematically evaluate and assure the usability of SPDs prior to entering the process enactment phase of the software engineering process (SEP) lifecycle. We believe that producing a usable SPD is expected to improve the chances of an enactable process. The framework encompasses four customisable components, namely factor selection, usability evaluation method (UEM) selection, SPD evaluation, and problem analysis. A list of usability factors for SPDs plays a crucial role in the framework: to identify the usability aspects to be improved, to select appropriate UEMs for evaluating the usability of SPDs, to develop evaluation instruments, and to analyse the detected usability problems. Considering the crucial roles of usability factors in our evaluation framework, we call the framework a Factor-Based Evaluation Framework (F-BEF) and in this thesis, F-BEF was instantiated specifically for evaluating the usability of SPDs. To support the dissemination of F-BEF information and to make it easy to learn and use for those involved in evaluating the usability of SPDs, we have developed an Electronic Process Description (EPD) of F-BEF. In this research, we employed a multi-method research approach to support various research activities: to investigate the factors that affect the usability of SPDs, to assess the applicability of some existing UEMs for SPDs, to evaluate two selected UEMs for SPDs, and to evaluate the usability of the EPD of F-BEF. From these research activities, we have identified a set of usability factors for SPDs and enhanced by considering input from a panel of experts. The enhanced list of usability factors was then used as the main criteria for evaluating and selecting appropriate UEMs for SPDs. As a result, two UEMs have been selected: Question Asking Protocol (QAP) and Perspective-Based Usability Inspection (PBUI). To investigate the feasibility and strategies for applying the selected UEMs for evaluating the usability of SPDs, we have conducted a controlled experiment with students as the subjects. The information and experience we gained throughout these research activities have been the prime consideration to formulate the F-BEF. The findings from each of the studies demonstrate that using a set of usability factors to support usability evaluation is feasible. We argue that the F-BEF provides the groundwork to create an engineering discipline for SPD quality assurance to support the SEP lifecycle – to make it a manageable process rather than an ad-hoc one. F-BEF is a novel approach for performing usability evaluation. The incorporation of usability factors into the framework helps usability evaluators focus in their evaluation and analysis. We believe that the information from usability factors can lead the evaluators to understand and decide what is actually important to evaluate and analyse in order to improve the usability of SPDs.
Keyword software engineering process
Additional Notes Colour pages: 22, 23, 53, 55, 73, 81, 85, 90, 94, 112, 114, 115, 124, 133, 135, 136, 138, 141, 142, 143, 146, 185, 186 Landscape: 88-89

 
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Created: Mon, 22 Nov 2010, 14:06:41 EST by Mr Mohd Naz'ri Mahrin on behalf of Library - Information Access Service