training a tester

I may have mentioned a few months ago that I’m training a tester who is new to mobile. We’re four months in, and I’m surprised to find that I’m still answering (many) questions daily. Language does play an important role, and sometimes I realize that concepts that are organized in a certain way in my head don’t translate well to words or the way other people think. But also, for a long time, I was just answering questions, imparting information.

I’ve changed tactics, now that she’s been on our team for several months, to being more socratic. If she thinks she’s found a bug, I press her, ask her why she thinks it’s a bug, and how she can get additional information about the bug. Eventually, I want to know what her oracles are, what devices/OSes/app versions she’s tried on, what environments she’s been in, what the logs that we have access to say, and on and on. I know I don’t always follow all the steps myself, but I have a checklist published for our team that talks about all the different things to try. If she asks whether a feature is supposed to be in a specific app version, I push her to explain why it should or should not be before I give her an answer. Just this last week, I included her in writing SOAP tests, asking her questions about how we could modify certain things to get the right thing tested, instead of talking through my own thought process.

I think this method is more effective. Instead of trying to describe how my own synapses fire, I’m making her form her own way of thinking about things. It’s frustrating sometimes, because it takes a lot more effort to work with someone for fifteen minutes so they come to their own answer instead of just providing it, but the goal is for it to save time in the future.

In the couple months where I was the only tester on the team, I revamped how testing was documented, and how things in general were documented, to a way that made the most sense to me. I documented what I did rather than what I was going to do. My notes for things to test for were for my reference, not for anyone else to consume, and I made mind maps as artifacts. This worked great for me, and I think it’s working well for my partner, but I’m trying to be sensitive to the idea that not everyone thinks like me (nor should they), and to be open to doing things another way, should she come up with something better.

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