Who are the students in BBST courses?

Version 1.02–July 29, 2007

Four of the common subgroups of students in BBST&#174 courses are:

  • novices,
  • university students,
  • staff at the instructor’s company, or
  • professional testers (or testers-to-be) in the general public.

Students’ learning and course management objectives vary a lot:

  • Novices are just entering the profession and tend to be drowning in vocabulary and basic applications of the simple techniques. Many are impatient with disputes over terminology, find distinctions among the techniques confusing, and find the variety of techniques available overwhelming. Procedural instruction (step-by-step instructions) is particularly valued by novices.
  • University students tend to be a lot more interested in the underlying theory, more willing to read theoretical papers, more tolerant (and appreciative) of relevant homework, and much more interested in their grade.
  • In-house students tend to be more focused on how the material in the course applies to the situation at their company. The instructor is (or should be) more likely to focus the course around the products in development at the company and to revise the course to complement the tools and procedures in place at the company.
  • Working professionals who sign up on their own tend to be more diverse. Some are very knowledgeable, others are just beginning to study testing. Some are taking the course because they’re curious about our particular approach to the material; others are hoping to become “certified” in software testing, partially on the basis of what they learn in the course.

Several different instructors teach the BBST courses. They structure the courses their own way, often tailoring them to the population of students. Courses for university students will differ from each other but probably look more similar to each other on issues of pace and grading than any of them will look to a course optimized for working novices, working professionals or in-house students. Each instructor adopts her own pass-fail criteria for a course.

Many versions of the Black Box Software Testing course are hybrid–they blend online and face-to-face instruction. The rest–including most or all of the BBST’s offered through AST–are purely online.

  • We will try to be explicit about when we are speaking to academic students (people who take a university course for credit) versus commercial students (people who are trying to learn this material, not for academic credit but probably to apply in business).
  • We will try to be explicit about when we are speaking to hybrid-course students versus purely online learners, but most of what we say to the online learners applies to the hybrid-course students too.