Why I am context-driven – Philip Hoeben

This is my blog in the series “Why am I Context-driven”. In this series every member of DEWT writes a personal story on why he or she is context-driven.

A natural phenomenon that appeals to me.

How obvious it may seem, first of all I want to point out that testing is part of a society where it functions. It’s not some form of alienated stand-alone discipline. One can notice a lot of similarities happening in the test world with things happening outside of the test world. It is not surprising that there is such a thing as a context-driven community, because it is a manifestation of what happens in society.

For instance, have a look at this article: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/06/oecd-pisa-tests-education-joy-of-learning. It’s about the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, the introduction of a standardised curriculum, and the criticism on it. I don’t think I have to elaborate that these debates are also going on within the test world. Just think of the vivid discussions about the value of certifications.

Or have a look at: http://hackeducation.com/.  Audrey Watters who writes a lot about ed tech on her blog, elaborates inspiringly about the effects of technology in education. When reading her blogs it is not hard to see parallels with the test world. She points out on her blog “Robots and education labor” that education is about gaining skills and not job training and career readiness.

My own take on education and the ‘joy of learning’ is that I want to dive into areas of my own interest, developing my own learning path, shaping my ideas in a way I choose. I don’t have any need to give an answer somebody expects me to give, which can be falsified anyway, as has been demonstrated both within as outside of the test world. It’s much more important to show skills in reasoning behind the answer. The context-driven school emphasizes on showing skills and being able to explain your reasoning.

Solving actual test problems.

I value one model over another when that model gives more insight in a topic. When I started to read about testing, at some point, I realise which model I value most.

Why the context-driven model?

When you want to learn about testing you have to study what testing is about and what happens during testing, because testing only happens when somebody is testing. We have to study this ‘act of testing’. Looking at testing with the stance of a detached observer can give illusory pretensions of what testing is, since only artifacts are the objects of study (test cases, test techniques, test plans, test processes etc.).

You interact with the software by using and manipulating the software as a human being. Your whole history (e.g. knowledge, experiences) is brought to your testing.

Wow, isn’t that great!

The context-driven community focusses on the human aspects of software testing and studies phenomena like interpretation, understanding and observing. By addressing it and showing the importance, you can actually study it.

Improvements in testing

As said before, I value the context-driven model most. I am convinced that in the future problems will rise that cannot be addressed by the context-driven model. As long as I don’t know or have any model for that or as long as a new model is not relevant, I stick to context-driven testing.

Improvements in testing are not related to security, big data, mobile, more or less or less is more automation, TMMi level x or other tech trends. Improvements in testing are about refining or redefining a model that challenge ideas that became common, and fits better in the ever changing society. Context-driven testing, and for example also agile, didn’t come to life because of tech trends, but through a different view on a subject. I don’t think tech trends will help us refine or redefine a model for testing. I believe context-driven testing is currently the only model which redefines and refines software testing. And for the good!

That people thing and the community

Of course there is a community of people saying meaningful things. Those people that are willing to help without presenting a one size fits all solution. I enjoy being with them and like to read their stuff.

It’s a truly inspiring community!


About testinghermeneutics

This blog is maintained by Philip Hoeben. I am a software tester from the Netherlands interested in all kinds of resources that can help improving my testing skills. The opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
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