Understanding Mindshift Learning: The Transition to Object-Oriented Development

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Abstract

Information systems professionals increasingly face changes in their work environment. Some of these changes are incremental, but many require fundamental shifts in mindset (referred to as a mindshift). Within the domain of software development, previous research has determined that veteran developers experience difficulty making the transition to new forms of development. Although prior research has brought awareness to the problems caused by a mindshift and has provided some insight, it has not answered the question of why software developers have difficulty making the transition. This study begins to answer that question by positing and examining the mindshift learning theory (MLT). The MLT suggests that the degree of perceived novelty of the fundamental concepts that characterize the new mindset will impact learning. Specifically, concepts may be perceived as novel (i.e., not familiar to the learner), changed (i.e., similar to a known concept, but a different meaning in the new context), or carryover (i.e., known concept with a similar meaning in the new context). As an exemplar mindshift learning situation, this study explores the phenomenon in the context of software developers transitioning from traditional to object-oriented (OO) software development. Findings indicate that software developers had higher knowledge scores on the OO concepts they perceived as novel or carryover compared to those they perceived as changed. Thus, developers experienced detrimental interference from their existing traditional software development knowledge structure when trying to learn OO software development. The findings have implications for organizations and individuals as an understanding of mindshifts could mean an easier transition through decreased frustration and a more effective learning process.

Additional Details

Author Deborah J. Armstrong and Bill C. Hardgrave
Year 2007
Volume 31
Issue 3
Keywords Software development, IS personnel, personnel training, learning theory, object-oriented
Page Numbers 453-474