Hypothesizing first makes you more productive

Posted in programmer productivity at 9:35 am by ducky

I finally got my hands on the dead-trees (i.e. uncorrupted) version of the Klahr/Dunbar article that I posted about earlier, and it didn’t say anywhere how long people in the hypothesizing group spent on coming up with hypotheses. However, I was able to track down David Klahr, and emailed to ask him how long they hypothesizing group spent hypothesizing. He graciously and quickly replied that it was only a few minutes. So if we make a wild guess that “a few” works out to an average of about four minutes, then the hypothesizing group took an average of about 10.2 minutes, while the non-hypothesizing group took an average of 19.4 minutes — so the hypothesizing group is still twice as fast as the non-hypothesizing group.

Note that the experimental conditions between the two groups were not exactly the same: the non-hypothesizing (slow) group all had at least one programming course, and pushed the buttons on the toy’s controller themselves. In the hypothesizing (fast) group, only half of them had prior programming experience. If those make a difference, I would have guessed that both of those differences would make the hypothesizing group slower than the non-hypothesizing group, but instead that group was twice as fast.


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