Study on student perception, motivation, and engagement in college software testing course


One main challenge in teaching software testing is students’ lack of motivation and appreciation of the benefit that can be derived from software testing concepts. Many students in our department (Computer Science Department) have limited or no experience testing software appropriately. Many students believe that software testing is uninteresting and unnecessary. Most students test their software in a limited fashion, using the instructor’s provided tests or a small number of quickly or randomly chosen inputs. Many students view testing as debugging; no theoretical concept or training is required; the only necessary skill is knowing how to print debug information. Some students simply change test cases to make the software pass when the tests fail. This typically leads to ineffective and inadequate tests.

To help students understand the concepts and the application of software testing, bridging theory and practice while maintaining active learning environment, this project intends to (i) redesign a software testing course and (ii) create and integrate a collection of hands-on, in-class and out-of-class activities, and a self-paced practice tool into a software testing course.

This project aims to explore students' experience and perceptions of engagement in an active learning environment. It focuses on studying the impact of in-class and out-of-class activities and a self-paced practice tool on students’ motivation, engagement, and perception on the use of software testing concepts. The goal is to understand the impact on students as an overall and the impact on different groups of students (female students and male students; majority students and URM students). The findings may be useful for educators, researchers, and interventionists who aim to improve the quality of teaching and learning software testing in colleges.

In Fall 2019, an initial set of in-class and out-of-class activities was developed and integrated into CS 3250 (Software Testing). A cross-course collaboration between CS 3250 and DSA1 (Professor Mark Floryan) was experimented. A preliminary report has been accepted to appear in The International Software Testing Education Workshop (TestEd2020), co-located with IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation (ICST2020). The cross-course collaboration will be carried out when the schedule and the course context allow.