Web-CAT: A Web-based Center for Automated Testing

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Date

2003-05-13

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Virginia Tech

Abstract

The fundamentals of software testing and related activities are often elusive in undergraduate curricula. A direct consequence of the lack of software testing efforts during education is the huge losses suffered by the software industry when applications are not sufficiently tested. Software practitioners have exhorted faculty members and institutions to teach more software testing in universities.

The purpose of this research is to provide answers to the needs of such practitioners and introduce software-testing activities throughout the curriculum. The most important goal is to introduce software-testing education without requiring a significant amount of extra effort on behalf of faculty members or teaching assistants.

The approach taken comprises the development of the Web-based Center for Automated Testing (Web-CAT) and the introduction of test-driven development (TDD) in courses. Web-CAT serves as a learning environment for software testing tasks and helps automatically assess student assignments.

A comparison of student programs developed using Web-CAT with historical records indicated a significant decrease in the number of bugs in submitted programs. Undergraduate students also received exposure to the principles of software testing and were able to write test cases that were on an average better than those generated by an automated test case generator designed specifically for the assignment.

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Keywords

Test-Driven Development, Software Engineering across the curriculum, Software Testing, Computer Science education, Test-first coding

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