It’s Time to Embrace the Student Who Learns Differently

Last in a series.

In my last two posts I’ve written about enhancing the student and instructor experience in the AST’s BBST courses by focusing on updating the Fieldstones and making BBST courses more accessible by identifying some of the more common obstacles to BBST participation, and then working collectively to find ways to lower or remove those obstacles.

In this post, I want to discuss the third and final area I would like to concentrate on if elected to the Board of Directors: researching and establishing alternate approaches to teaching that better suit different learning styles.

As members of the AST, we have access to some of the best information and training available in the field of software testing. The AST hosts the Conference of the Association for Software Testing (CAST) each year, providing full-day tutorials, keynotes, and track sessions. They also offer four separate BBST courses:  Foundations, Bug Advocacy, Test Design, and the Instructors course. James Bach, Michael Bolton, Anne-Marie Charrett and Huib Schoots also offer scheduled Skype coaching. Additionally, the AST offers blog syndication, providing a one-stop shop to read the blogs of fellow AST members.

So, if we already offer all of that, why research and develop educational materials which target alternate ways of learning?

In a word, context. One thing I’ve learned from my involvement with tester education – whether through the AST,  work, or back in college – is that different people learn different ways. One person may learn better in a collaborative environment rather than on their own. Another may need to have information presented analytically instead of holistically, or the next might have better retention if they see material drawn out graphically instead of being written. My point is, the context in which one person best learns may be frustratingly incomprehensible to the next. Yes, we have excellent training resources, but I think it would bolster the AST’s objectives to research and implement additional teaching styles.

Another facet of my argument is about our looking to the future and finding new ways to stay relevant, ensuring the AST maintains a position of prominence and leadership within the industry. To do this, we need to advance not only the art and science of software testing, but also the methods used to teach the art and science of software testing.

This October will mark the eighth anniversary of the AST’s BBST Foundations course. That’s a lot of different classes with a lot of different students over the years. Other organizations have started to notice, and now offer their own BBST Foundations course. But I don’t see that as a problem, I see it as a success. So, let’s look for other ways in which the AST can continue to drive testing education forward.


I offer thanks to everyone who has read and shared my posts outlining what I hope to accomplish if elected to the AST’s Board of Directors.

I’ve worked with many of Board members in different capacities. Maybe it was in the BBST classes or with the Education Committee. Maybe it was via a Miagi-Do challenge, book club, writing assignment, or lean coffee. I have spoken with two in particular about running for the board, Michael Larsen and Justin Rohrman, and thank them for their support of my ideas. When combined with the momentum that Justin has already established by improving the BBST classes, their support gives me a head start in accomplishing these ideas. 

Let’s continue to drive software testing education forward!