Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


College of Engineering


Ayaan Kazerouni

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The ability to test software is invaluable in all areas of computer science, but it is often neglected in computer science curricula. Test adequacy criteria (TAC), tools that measure the effectiveness of a test suite, have been used as aids to improve software testing teaching practices, but little is known about how students respond to them. Studies have examined the cognitive processes of students programming and professional developers writing tests, but none have investigated how student testers test with TAC. If we are to improve how they are used in the classroom, we must start by understanding the different ways that they affect students’ thought processes as they write tests.

In this thesis, we take a grounded theory approach to reveal the underlying cognitive processes that students utilize as they test under no feedback, condition coverage, and mutation analysis. We recorded 12 students as they thought aloud while creating test suites under these feedback mechanisms, and then we analyzed these recordings to identify the thought processes they used. We present our findings in the form of the phenomena we identified, which can be further investigated to shed more light on how different TAC affect students as they write tests. i