Seeing the Wood For the Trees

I’ve recently been reading through my ISEB Practitioner notes, which I got when attending a course organised by Grove Consultants a few years back.

Don’t switch off yet. I know I mentioned ISEB. So before I go further, it’s worth stating my thoughts on the whole ISEB/ISTQB debate. I summed up my frustrations in a previous blog post; the fact that in the UK having ISTQB certification is practically the only way to get past the recruiters gate, but I also feel that there is some merit to the courses if taught properly, and followed up with a context driven approach such as Rapid Software Testing.

Reading back through my notes from Grove I can now see that this is what they were trying to work towards. At the time I had no idea how important the context driven school of testing was, nor the work of James Bach, Michael Bolton, Cem Kaner and others. But looking in the notes, the names are there. The techniques, albeit in nowhere near the detail that James or Michael teach in class of course, were hinted at and some approaches, particularly Exploratory Testing, are mentioned in some detail. Some slides are directly referenced from James and Michael’s work.

Unfortunately, due to the need to pass the exam, and with these areas being marked as ‘not exam’ then I didn’t pay them the attention that they warranted, and so it took a few more years to discover how and why the context driven approach can be so powerful. Which maybe shows the true problem with ISEB/ ISTQB certification after all.

4 thoughts on “Seeing the Wood For the Trees”

  1. It’s the certification label and the multiple choice Q&A style approach weakens its strength. The content of such courses is quite rich and useful to know from testing perspective and it is in one place.Beyond that it adds no value. Any good tester can guess the answers 80-90% of the times.Even then one should not be completely dismissive if your aim is to learn rather than getting a piece of paper.

    1. Thanks for the comments.

      I agree, multiple choice does weaken it. Although when I did the Practitioner certification it was a 3 hour, arm aching, essay based format. I’m not sure why that changed, although probably merely to make the marking easier.

  2. Great balanced opinion there.

    I really loved the ISEB Foundation course I was on. I found it really interesting that there was a level to the theory of testing which although much of it I’d stumbled over in my own way, there were whole levels I’d just never really come across as such.

    But then it took all that theory and reduced it to A, B, C, D. And it cheapened it. I’d been in software for 10 years, and knew there wasn’t a “one way” of doing things. Each project had slightly different ways for slightly different constraints.

    I really wanted to do the Practitioner just because it was essay based, indeed my tutor felt I’d do well out of it (argumentative). The company I did the training with offered Learning Tree’s Putting Test Theory Into Practice – and this course was an essential, taking the theory and doing worked examples.

    About 20 people were on the ISEB course, but only 4 on the follow on. Which was a shame.

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