Kolb’s Testing Cycle

Software Testing

We’ve all been done a terrible wrong.

I wasn’t born at the time, but it must’ve been somewhere in the 60’s, when the first ‘software tester’ was named as such.
How did this came about? I can only imagine.
As so many innovations it was probably a scheme to make money where there wasn’t initially any.

From the first tester on, us professionals were branded “Tester” and no finer name exists. Because Testing is such a broad an interesting concept, that it’s really more of an aspiration, a goal than a thing you can fully master.

BUT! Somehow, through time, in people’s perception, the word “testing” degraded. Is it because it is associated with unwelcome surprises? Is it because everyone sometimes does it and can do it? Or maybe testing doesn’t invoke much imagination, digressing in a ‘checking culture’?

Testing is in the same league as “Playing”. A child can play with blocks and dolls, a group can perform a play at a theater. Everyone can do some form of playing. Sure, not everyone can play the piano. Everyone can learn though, if they are willing. Learning, just as testing and playing, is key.
This is an important similarity I would like to make.

Learning and Testing

One can not test, if you are not willing to learn. One can not learn if you don’t test.
They are not exactly the same, but they are immensely congruent.

Testing and learning have virtually the same process.
The chart in this post visualizes Kolb’s Learning Cycle and is part of every teacher’s education.
Everyone, while learning, is considered to go through each of the four stages.
You can begin at any stage, but will eventually complete the cycle. You’ll also spend more time on one or two of the stages as that will be your personal preferred learning style.




I’m more of a do-er, focusing on Concrete Experience. This is how a typical test cycle usually goes for me:


1. Get hands-on experience with the product;
2. While or afterwards create some kind of mindmap of what I experienced;
3. Analyze where and how I could important defects fast;
4. Go back and find those buggers..

See how Testing and Learning go entwined? We could be named ‘Software learner’ or ‘Software player’ just as well. However, neither of those evoke any more awe than ‘tester’ in the general perception.
Personally, while I can’t effectively master testing as a whole, I can learn about it and hope that one day, I’ll be truly worthy of the name “Tester”.

We’ve all been done a terrible wrong.
We’ve been given a job title we can’t possibly fulfill.


3 thoughts on “Kolb’s Testing Cycle

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