Updating to BBST 4.0: Differences Between the Core BBST Courses and Domain Testing

This is the second section of my post on BBST 4.0. The other parts are at:

Differences Between the Core BBST Courses and Domain Testing

Domain Testing focuses on one testing technique (domain testing), which is believed to be the most popular test technique in the known universe. (We hope to develop some additional one-technique-focused courses, but this one had to come first.) In this course, we help students go beyond awareness and basic understanding of the technique, to develop skill with it. Because it is more in-depth, and more focused on doing the technique well than on talking about it, the course structure had to change a bit.

Our most important change was the introduction of application videos, in which we demonstrate parts of the technique on real programs. More details on this below… I mention it here because this is the primary idea from Domain Testing that will come into BBST 4.0.

Structure of the Core BBST Courses

The original instructor-led BBST courses are organized around six lectures (about six hours of talk, divided into one-hour parts), with a collection of activities. To successfully complete a typical instructor-led course, a student spends about 12-15 hours per week for 4 weeks (48-60 hours total).

Most of the course time is spent on the activities:

  • Orientation activities introduce students to a key challenge considered in a lecture. The student puzzles through the activity for 30 to 90 minutes, typically before watching the lecture, then sees how the lecture approaches this type of problem. The typical Foundations course has two to four of these.
  • Application activities call for two to six hours of work. It applies ideas or techniques presented in a lecture or developed over several lectures. The typical Foundations course has one to two of these.
  • Multiple-choice quizzes help students identify gaps in their knowledge or understanding of key concepts in the course. These questions are tough because they are designed to be instructional or diagnostic (to teach you something, to deepen your knowledge of something, or to help you recognize that you don’t understand something) rather than to fairly grade you.
  • Various other discussions that help the students get to know each other better, chew on the course’s multiple-choice quiz questions, or consider other topics of current interest.
  • An essay-style final exam.
  • Interactive Grading. An interactive grading session is a one-on-one meeting, student with instructor, that lasts 1-to-2 hours (occasionally, 3 hours, ouch) and is focused on a specific exam or major assignment. In Foundations, we work through the exam. In Bug Advocacy, we focus on a student’s analysis of a bug report. In Test Design, we focus on the second course assignment, which applies a combination of risk-based testing and domain testing to OpenOffice.

Structure of Domain Testing

The Domain Testing course breaks from the BBST model in four ways:

  • Focus On One Technique: The Domain Testing course teaches one (1) technique. Our goal is to help students develop practical skill with this technique.
  • The workbook is a textbook on domain testing, not a course support book.
  • Application Videos: Along with the core lecture videos, we provide supplementary videos that show how we apply the technique to real software products. This is the primary instructional innovation in this course, and students have praised it highly. Each lesson comes with a set of application videos. Each video demonstrates the technique on one product. We currently work with 4 very different products: a financial application, a complex embedded software system (driving a high-end sewing machine), a graphic design program and a music composition program. As we teach a new aspect of domain testing, students can choose to watch how we apply it to any one (or more) of these programs. Then they apply it to the course’s software under test (currently, GnuCash, which is like an open source QuickBooks.)
  • Capstone Project Instead of an Exam: Because our focus is on skill development, we skip the multiple-choice questions and the exam. Students practiced the pieces of the task in the first three weeks. In the Project, they put it all together. We interactively grade the final project.

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