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.