Guidance for exploratory testing through problem frames

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Conference Proceeding

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Exploratory testing is a well-established, industry-adopted process of investigation and discovery, which employs human creativity to gain deep insights into a software product. It is authentic, rigorous, and enjoyable, making it an excellent topic for an undergraduate software engineering course. However, it is difficult to explain to the beginner how to generate a successful exploratory strategy. 'Case studies' and 'lessons learned' from practitioners illustrate the value of exploratory testing but do not necessarily reveal the motivation for a particular exploratory tour. Here we discuss the use of problem frames as a means of guiding students toward promising testing strategies. Problem frames were originally proposed as a requirements analysis approach, carefully locating and bounding software problems to be solved, then matching subproblems to commonly occurring problem patterns or 'frames'. A natural extension to that idea is to associate test strategies with particular frame concerns, guiding the student toward exploratory techniques that are well-suited to the frame. Once students become confident exploratory testers, they can add their own strategies to a growing body of knowledge. To illustrate the approach, we consider frame concerns and test strategies for workpieces problems, using Google Calendar as our test subject. © 2013 IEEE.

Publication Title

Software Engineering Education Conference, Proceedings