Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Computer Science


Robert Pastel


In the realm of computer programming, the experience of writing a program is used to reinforce concepts and evaluate ability. This research uses three case studies to evaluate the introduction of testing through Kolb's Experiential Learning Model (ELM). We then analyze the impact of those testing experiences to determine methods for improving future courses.

The first testing experience that students encounter are unit test reports in their early courses. This course demonstrates that automating and improving feedback can provide more ELM iterations. The JUnit Generation (JUG) tool also provided a positive experience for the instructor by reducing the overall workload.

Later, undergraduate and graduate students have the opportunity to work together in a multi-role Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) course. The interactions use usability analysis techniques with graduate students as usability experts and undergraduate students as design engineers. Students get experience testing the user experience of their product prototypes using methods varying from heuristic analysis to user testing. From this course, we learned the importance of the instructors role in the ELM.

As more roles were added to the HCI course, a desire arose to provide more complete, quality assured software. This inspired the addition of unit testing experiences to the course. However, we learned that significant preparations must be made to apply the ELM when students are resistant.

The research presented through these courses was driven by the recognition of a need for testing in a Computer Science curriculum. Our understanding of the ELM suggests the need for student experience when being introduced to testing concepts. We learned that experiential learning, when appropriately implemented, can provide benefits to the Computer Science classroom. When examined together, these course-based research projects provided insight into building strong testing practices into a curriculum.