Improving Students’ Testing Practices


Recommended citation:

Gina R. Bai. 2020. Improving Students’ Testing Practices. In Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE 42nd International Conference on Software Engineering: Companion Proceedings. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 218–221.

[Full Paper]


Software testing prevents and detects the introduction of faults and bugs during the process of evolving and delivering reliable software. As an important software development activity, testing has been intensively studied to measure test code quality and effectiveness, and assist professional developers and testers with automated test generation tools. In recent years, testing has been attracting educators’ attention and has been integrated into some Computer Science education programs. Understanding challenges and problems faced by students can help inform educators the topics that require extra attention and practice when presenting testing concepts and techniques.

In my research, I study how students implement and modify source code given unit tests, and how they perceive and perform unit testing. I propose to quantitatively measure the quality of student-written test code, and qualitatively identify the common mistakes and bad smells observed in student-written test code. We compare the performance of students and professionals, who vary in prior testing experience, to investigate the factors that lead to high-quality test code. The ultimate goal of my research is to address the challenges students encountered during test code composition and improve their testing skills with supportive tools or guidance.