November 2020 Virtual QASIG – Teaching Testing To Programmers

Teaching Testing To Programmers. What Sticks, And What Slides Off? A Journey From Teflon To Velcro.

Presented by Rob Sabourin and Monica Wodzislawski

Fresh from PNSQC in Portland, Rob Sabourin, and McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and Mónica Wodzislawski, Centro Ensayos de Software (Software Testing Center), Uruguay and Universidad del la Republica (University of the Republic), Uruguay.

Rob and Monica share over three-quarters of a century of experience teaching programmers about software testing. There is a lot of interest in teaching programming skills to testers, but Rob and Monica suggest that it is even more important to teach testing skills to programmers. Corporate initiatives to “shift left” and agile development “test-driven” approaches are only effective if a skilled programmer is also a skilled tester. Preventative testing is prevalent in many fields of endeavor, such as science and medicine. Preventative testing is a natural fit in software engineering.

A lot of agile training emphasizes soft skills to support collaboration between team members with diverse skills. Rob and Monica praise such training but emphasize the need for pragmatic hard skill development. Programming skills, test design skills, troubleshooting, and debugging must be taught. Great testing does not naturally follow from team-building exercises.

As test service professionals, Rob and Monica have observed two phenomenons. First, teams deliver poor quality applications preventing test effort from finding important, critical, and severe bugs. Secondly, teams lack knowledge of a wide range of testing activities and possibilities that could have been accomplished during development.

Programmers are encouraged to have a shared commitment to quality. Training programmers involves building testing technical skills and testing cultural awareness. Programmers must learn to permeate testing into their development insights, process, methods, techniques, and tools.

Different instructional techniques and approaches will be explored. Impactful methods that stick will contrast ineffective methods that are quickly discarded. Rob and Monica compare and contrast training approaches used in many different corporate and academic programs. Custom training based on skill assessment and task analysis will be compared with generic courses. The lessons learned may be interesting to organizations and development professionals to help identify methods to apply testing skills very early in development activities.

About our speakers:

Robert Sabourin has more than thirty-eight years of management experience leading teams of software development professionals. A highly respected member of the software engineering community, Rob has managed, trained, mentored, and coached hundreds of top professionals in the field. He frequently speaks at conferences and writes on software engineering, SQA, testing, management, and internationalization. Rob authored I am a Bug!, the popular software testing children’s book, works as an adjunct professor of software engineering at McGill University, and serves as the principal consultant (and president/janitor) of AmiBug.Com, Inc. Contact Rob at

Mónica Wodzislawski is an International Consultant in Software Quality and Testing with over twenty-five years of experience in IT. As a software testing pioneer in Uruguay, she has contributed to building a large environment for software testing, both, in industry and academia, with the motto: “test to learn and learn to test.” She is responsible for the first fully-online Testing Career (3 years in its complete version) in Spanish offered by the Centro de Ensayos de Software. Mónica has been a speaker at several international conferences. She is also a professor of Software Engineering in the CS Department within the School of Engineering at Universidad de la República.

See the slides:

Teaching Testing to Programmers, Teflon to Velcro Slides

See the Full Paper:

Teaching Testing To Programmers, Teflon to Velcro Technical Paper

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