An Exploratory Analysis of the Impact of Named Ranges on the Debugging Performance of Novice Users

by   Ruth McKeever, et al.

This paper describes an exploratory empirical study of the effect of named ranges on spreadsheet debugging performance. Named ranges are advocated in both academia and industry, yet no experimental evidence has been cited to back up these recommendations. This paper describes an exploratory experiment involving 21 participants that assesses the performance of novices debugging a spreadsheet containing named ranges. The results are compared with the performance of a different set of novices debugging the same spreadsheet without named ranges. The findings suggest that novice users debug on average significantly fewer errors if the spreadsheet contains named ranges. The purpose of the investigative study is to derive a detailed and coherent set of research questions regarding the impact of range names on the debugging performance and behaviour of spreadsheet users. These will be answered through future controlled experiments.



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