Critical Thinking for Testers
with Michael Bolton
Critical Thinking Skills for Testers
- Every test must have an expected, predicted result.
- Effective testing requires complete, clear, consistent, and unambiguous specifications.
- Bugs found earlier cost less to fix than bugs found later.
- Testers are the quality gatekeepers for a product.
- Repeated tests are fundamentally more valuable.
- You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
- Testing at boundary values is the best way to find bugs.
- Test documentation is needed to deflect legal liability.
- The more bugs testers find before release, the better the testing effort.
- Exploratory testing is unstructured testing, and is therefore unreliable.
- Adopting best practices will guarantee that we do a good job of testing.
If you’re a tester or a test manager, you’ve probably heard statements like these touted as universal, unquestionable truths about testing. At best, these bits of mythology and folklore are heuristics—fallible methods for solving a problem or making a decision. At worst, they’re potentially dangerous simplifications or outright fallacies that can threaten a tester’s credibility, a product’s value, or an organization’s business.
Testers live in a world of enormous complexity, scarce information, and extraordinary time pressure. In order to deal with this, they need skills of critical thinking-thinking about thinking, with the intention of not being fooled. This one-day workshop, presented by Michael Bolton, is designed to teach strategies and skills—questioning skills, critical thinking, context-driven thinking, general systems thinking—that can help testers deal confidently and thoughtfully with difficult testing situations.
In the workshop, we’ll question the myths of software testing; examine common cognitive biases, and the critical thinking tools that can help to manage them; learn modeling and general systems approaches to manage complexity and observational challenges; and work through exercises that model difficult testing problems—and suggest approaches to solving them.
- Heuristic approaches are the foundation of human decision-making, in disciplines from education to engineering.
- While technical skills are undoubtedly important, applying them successfully requires higher-order critical thinking skills.
- Good testing is less about confirming, verifying, and validating, and more about thinking, questioning, exploring, investigating, and discovering.
- As the principles of the Context-Driven School of Software Testing assert, while there are good practices in context, there are no practices that are universally best.