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What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
Deep Dive into a Topic
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Exploratory testing: a multiple case study
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Exploratory Testing - A Practical Case study
- Complexity of software systems
- Astronomical number of scenarios possible in any non-trivial system
- Impossibility of exhaustive testing
- Limited testing time & resources
- Assessment of reliability
- When to stop testing.
Sudhir Patnaik is currently working with Accelrys Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore as an Associate Director of Product Testing and Automation.
Sudhir Patnaik has over 12 years of experience in research, software testing and development. Organizations where Sudhir has contributed his expertise include Misys Healthcare Systems, USA, and Siri Technologies, Bangalore.
Sudhir brings with him varied industry experience in Aerospace, Logistics, Healthcare and Bio-Technology involving client/server, legacy and Internet technologies. His expertise includes establishing test team and test labs, developing testing strategies, identifying automation opportunities, and management of the test life cycle. He has utilized various automated testing tools and has worked on varied and diverse platforms. He has also published many articles on Software Testing in International Software Testing conferences and the SEPG Conference.
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Learn what exploratory testing is and its history. discover the pros and cons of exploratory testing, how it differs from scripted testing, and the appropriate context to use it..
Exploratory testing is an approach to software testing that is often described as simultaneous learning, test design, and execution. It focuses on discovery and relies on the guidance of the individual tester to uncover defects that are not easily covered in the scope of other tests.
The practice of exploratory testing has gathered momentum in recent years. Testers and QA managers are encouraged to include exploratory testing as part of a comprehensive test coverage strategy.
History of exploratory testing
Exploratory testing has existed for some time but was often referred to as ‘ad-hoc testing’. The term "exploratory testing" was formally introduced by software testing expert Cem Kaner in his classic book, Testing Computer Software.
The introduction is now famous: “No matter how many test cases of how many types you’ve created, you will run out of formally planned tests. You can keep testing. Run new tests as you think of them, without spending much time preparing or explaining the tests. Trust your instincts.”
Why use exploratory testing
Teams today need to adopt continuous integration and deliver on the market demand of quality digital experiences to meet rising customer expectations. While speed to market is important, there are instances of million-dollar bugs or simple user experience disasters that are very costly. From Boeing to Instagram, there are plenty of examples where the rush to deliver on deadline and poor-quality testing led to reputational and financial damage.
Most software quality testing uses a structured approach. Test cases are defined based on already defined user stories and the test data is structured based on the test cases defined. Test coverage is measured using software engineering metrics and, in most cases, the coverage is adequate technically.
Build and operate software with open devops, related material, automated testing for devops.
What it often misses are edge cases, which are discovered through User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and are tested based on user personas. On the other hand, exploratory testing is random or unstructured in nature and can reveal bugs that would go undiscovered during structured phase of testing.
With exploratory testing, testers can play around with a user story that follows a certain sequence. Testers can annotate defects, add assertions and voice memos, and create documentation on the fly. This is how a user story is converted into a test case. This information can also be used for QA.
Effectively, test execution is implemented without formally authoring test steps. The exploratory testing tool then becomes a precursor to automation. It helps formalize the findings and document it automatically. With the help of visual feedback and collaborative testing tools, everyone can participate in exploratory testing. This enables teams to react and adapt to changes quickly – facilitating an agile workflow.
Furthermore, the tester can convert exploratory testing sequences into functional test scripts using tools for automated test case documentation. This reinforces the traditional testing process.
By integrating with tools such as Jira and test management products, teams can directly export the recorded documentation to test cases.
So, exploratory testing speeds up documentation, facilitates unit testing and helps create an instant feedback loop. As James Bach, co-founder of the Context-Driven School of Software Testing puts it, “exploratory testing encourages scientific thinking in real time.”
When should you use exploratory testing?
Exploratory testing is suited for specific testing scenarios, such as when someone needs to learn about a product or application quickly and provide rapid feedback. It helps review the quality of a product from a user perspective.
In many software cycles, an early iteration is required when teams don’t have much time to structure the tests. Exploratory testing is quite helpful in this scenario.
When testing mission-critical applications, exploratory testing ensures you don’t miss edge cases that lead to critical quality failures. Plus, use exploratory testing to aid unit test process, document the steps and use that information to test extensively during later sprints.
It is especially useful to find new test scenarios to enhance the test coverage.
When to say no to exploratory testing
Organizations must be able to strike the right balance between exploratory testing and scripted testing. Exploratory testing alone can’t offer adequate coverage and teams shouldn’t attempt it unless they have reached a few initial milestones.
Especially with any type of testing that is regulated or compliance-based, scripted testing is the way to go. In compliance based testing, where certain checklists and mandates need to be followed for legal reasons, it is advised to stick to scripted testing. One example of this is accessibility testing where several laws govern the testing protocol and there are defined standards that need to be passed.
Importance of exploratory testing for CI/CD
Exploratory testing opens testing to all key stakeholders and not just trained testers. Using an exploratory testing tool, one can capture screenshots, record voice memos and annotate feedback during sessions. This enables faster and more efficient review, by people beyond the traditional software tester.
Exploratory testing complements QA teams’ existing test strategy. It comprises a series of undocumented testing sessions to discover yet unearthed issues/bugs. When combined with automated testing and other testing practices , it increases test coverage, discovers edge cases, potentially adds new features and overall improves the software product. With no structural rigidity, it encourages experimentation, creativity and discovery within the teams.
The almost instantaneous nature of feedback helps close the gaps between testers and developers. Above all, the results of exploratory testing provide a user-oriented perspective and feedback to the development teams. The goal is to complement traditional testing to find million-dollar defects that are generally hidden behind the defined workflow.
You can visit the Atlassian Marketplace to learn more about test management applications . Plus, you can learn how Atlassian and third-party tools can integrate testing in your workflow with our DevOps testing tutorials.
I’ve lived and breathed QA for the last decade now through my experience of working with leading QA services and product companies. I’m currently the head of Marketing and Partnerships at QMetry , bringing with me 20 years of experience in the IT industry, which has instilled in me the strong belief in improving customer delight through software quality.
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