Towards a Model of Testers' Cognitive Processes: Software Testing as a Problem Solving Approach
Paper i proceeding, 2020

Software testing is a complex, intellectual activity based (at least) on analysis, reasoning, decision making, abstraction and collaboration performed in a highly demanding environment. Naturally, it uses and allocates multiple cognitive resources in software testers. However, while a cognitive psychology perspective is increasingly used in the general software engineering literature, it has yet to find its place in software testing. To the best of our knowledge, no theory of software testers' cognitive processes exists. Here, we take the first step towards such a theory by presenting a cognitive model of software testing based on how problem solving is conceptualized in cognitive psychology. Our approach is to instantiate a general problem solving process for the specific problem of creating test cases. We then propose an experiment for testing our cognitive test design model. The experiment makes use of verbal protocol analysis to understand the mechanisms by which human testers choose, design, implement and evaluate test cases. An initial evaluation was then performed with five software engineering master students as subjects. The results support a problem solving-based model of test design for capturing testers' cognitive processes.

verbal protocol

verbal protocol analysis

human aspects

cognitive processes

test creation

problem solving

exploratory testing

manual test design

software testing

behavioral software testing

cognitive model

cognitive psychology

human based software testing

test design


Eduard Enoiu

Mälardalens högskola

Gerald Tukseferi

Mälardalens högskola

Robert Feldt

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering, Software Engineering for Testing, Requirements, Innovation and Psychology

Proceedings - Companion of the 2020 IEEE 20th International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security, QRS-C 2020

272-279 9282711

20th IEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security, QRS 2020
Macau, China,




Datavetenskap (datalogi)



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