Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Mon, 21 Apr 2003

Knowledge and skill

Cem Kaner (ex-Silicon-Valley tester and consultant, author, leading light in the context-driven testing school, lawyer, and now professor of computer science) has a new blog. His first posting gives his final exam for a software testing course.

It's important because Cem is in the vanguard of a debate in testing: what would certification in testing mean, were it not to be completely bogus?

Most certification schemes aim to evaluate knowledge. The degenerate form of such a scheme would have students sit through a day of lecture, then immediately take a half-hour exam where they demonstrate that they heard what was said. Lather, rinse, repeat. Sit through enough days, and you become a Certified Tester.

The problem with such a scheme is that the connection between knowledge and skill is tenuous and indirect. Knowledge is what you know. Skill is what you can do. Employers generally want to hire skill, but have no skill at evaluating it. They make do with evaluating knowledge, or with accepting a certification of knowledge. Certifiers prefer to certify knowledge because it's much simpler than certifying skill.

(Caveat emptor: many oversimplifications in previous paragraph.)

Cem's exam is skill-based evaluation.

I rather like the way veterinarians are certified to be skilled at Internal Medicine. (I assume practitioners of single-species medicine [human doctors] are certified the same way, but I don't know.) I'll describe it in a later post.

## Posted at 08:19 in category /testing [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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