Comparing the defect reduction benefits of code inspection and test-driven development

Jerod W. Wilkerson, Jay F. Nunamaker, Rick Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This study is a quasi experiment comparing the software defect rates and implementation costs of two methods of software defect reduction: code inspection and test-driven development. We divided participants, consisting of junior and senior computer science students at a large Southwestern university, into four groups using a two-by-two, between-subjects, factorial design and asked them to complete the same programming assignment using either test-driven development, code inspection, both, or neither. We compared resulting defect counts and implementation costs across groups. We found that code inspection is more effective than test-driven development at reducing defects, but that code inspection is also more expensive. We also found that test-driven development was no more effective at reducing defects than traditional programming methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5750007
Pages (from-to)547-560
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Software Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


  • Agile programming
  • code inspections and walk throughs
  • empirical study
  • reliability
  • test-driven development
  • testing strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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