As the kid who ALWAYS failed the lessons in “Following Directions” it is not without some trepidation that I decided to take Weekend Testing Australia/New Zealand in the direction of critical thinking. What do you think critical thinking is? Problem solving? Following directions? Structure? Precision? How many times have you heard critical thinking mentioned as important for testing? Uh-huh, yeah, that’s great…me too. Now, what is it?
No, really…what IS IT?
Before last week, I had forgotten so I spent this week reading about it. I needed some review. (It’s ALWAYS ok to admit we need review.) So that’s what I did. This included taking a quiz about my skills to find out where I’m lacking. For me, critical thinking is using a particular set of skills to analyze a problem or some information. It involves the following skills
- Following a sequence
- Following Directions (Pffffffftttt!!!!)
- Close Reading
I did ok on all of it including “Following Directions” but I did not do as well on “Close Reading.” Between that and tester friend Chris McMahon’s suggestion that I mine this blog post of his for some ideas, I decided to base our session on “close reading.”
We had 2 activities, both of them involving bugs in Atlassian’s open-to-public-view issue tracker.
The first was to take a set of 3 bugs marked as duplicates and compare/contrast them picking out the one we considered to have the most effective information and noticing which information some noticed but others didn’t.
The second activity was looking at issues with stack traces to try and figure out more detail from the stack and information in the issue what had gone wrong.
if you’d like try some close reading on your own, find an issue and read through it. Then, put it away and come back to it after 30 minutes or so. What did you notice the 2nd time that you didn’t the first? if you do this multiple times, is there a pattern? Perhaps there’s a certain type of information you don’t digest as readily or an area of the page that is less likely to catch your eye.
I think we’re going to continue this thread on critical thinking for our next WTANZ as well. That will take place on January 23, after the holidays.
For those who saw my tweets about involving HTML5 in this, I veered away from that because I was not having great success in putting an activity together. I will blog that separately because I think those of us testing HTML5 features will have to reconsider how we approach the web. Stay tuned…
Update: I logged this issue yesterday based on one of the bugs we discussed in our session. The original problem was fixed, but I found another place to get the stack trace, so I logged it.