Feynman Learning Technique: Why to Use it in Testing Practices?

April 13, 2023Pricilla Bilavendran
The Feynman learning Technique: A Systematic Way to Learn New Technologies

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Hello there!

Welcome again to another fascinating blog.

As software testers, we are constantly attempting to keep up with technological changes and upgrade ourselves. Every day, new tools enter the market, and we, as testers, must get our hands dirty.

Most days, we get lost in the middle of pandemonium and are easily distracted. We often learn lots and forget quickly. Continuing to learn might be exhausting at times.

Isn’t it true that learning should be fun, exciting, and engaging?

How to learn systematically? How can we put together what we’ve learned and apply it? How might fresh learnings and experiences be used to improve the testing process?

In this article, I will share my own experience and provide ideas on how to develop and improve your learning and testing skills using the Feynman approach.

Introduction: What is the Feynman Learning Technique?

Are you wondering what this is all about?

 “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”

— Doris Lessing

The Feynman Learning Technique is a system that allows you to approach any new technology, problem, or creative idea from a clean slate, without any preconceived notions. The technique was named after the great theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman, who was known for his innovative and original thinking. He considered learning to be an active process of “trial and error, discovery, and spontaneous inquiry.” He believed in a multidisciplinary approach to education.

One of the key ingredients in Feynman’s success was his ability to think outside the box. This systematic method breaks down a complicated concept into manageable pieces so that learners can develop an understanding of the concept and then move on to other more complex topics. You can apply the same technique to your problem-solving and creative development process to achieve better results.

It is a mental exercise that teaches your brain to solve issues in novel and unconventional ways. The Feynman Technique is a learning approach that unlocks your potential and pushes you to gain a deep understanding. This method was originally developed for scientists and mathematicians. Nonetheless, it has since been adopted by entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and other professions that require constant creativity.

The exercise doesn’t take much time or effort, especially if you have a little bit of practice with it. It works by making use of the human brain’s innate proclivity to establish connections between seemingly unrelated items, which is why it was originally referred to as “thinking backward” (although different names are used for the same concept today).

Feynman’s Core Principles

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

— Benjamin Franklin

There are a few ground rules before learning the steps:

Remove all Preconceived Notions: The first thing you must do is remove all preconceived notions from your mind. This means that you will have to stop thinking about what you already know and have read about the topic. 

Start with a Question: The next step is to find the right question. The question must be a question that you don’t already know the answer to. Ideally, the question should be a problem-based question. 

Explore the Question: The next step is to explore the question. You must continually ask yourself why you are exploring this particular question.

Step 1: 

The first step is sequential analysis. This is what Feynman called it when he was researching new concepts, which means taking small steps of knowledge before taking a leap. So selecting a tool or technology based on the need or passion is the first step towards learning. Also, remember that you go open-minded.

Step 2:

Conduct deeper research about the topic you chose. Collate the materials together. Schedule and learn simple topics every day. Consistency is the key. Small steps a day helps you to cover a major chunk in a period of time.

 “One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years, you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.”

— Earl Nightingale

Step 3:

When you learn something and strive to teach it to someone else, you could be extremely influential. To give back in whatever manner possible, you may develop a knowledge repository, do internal webinars, speak at conferences, and write technical blogs, to name a few options.

So keep an analogy in mind. You are a pioneer in that tool or technique if you can explain a concept to a five-year-old. Anyone can learn that concept from you. We may improve the teaching by using simple examples and anecdotes.

Step 4:

Repeat the process after reviewing and documenting the information obtained. Identify knowledge gaps and enhance learning.

These are the different steps in learning using the Feynman technique. 

Now let’s see an example of how we can implement that easily in our daily learning process. 

For example, if you want to learn about certain emerging trends. You are now conducting research, reading software testing-related newsletters, and attending various conferences to hear from experts. It goes without saying that understanding AI and machine learning will be useful for software testers in 2023. So you’ve decided to master the fundamentals of AI and Machine Learning. We crossed the first step of deciding upon the topic/concept. 

As a second step, you must perform an additional investigation to gather relevant resources. Because the Internet is so vast, creating a list based on your interests and aspirations might be difficult. Now, attempt to gather links to conference talks, blogs, Udemy courses, and so forth, and compile everything. Also, be sure to order the materials according to the degree of difficulty. Make a plan and learn step by step. You will undoubtedly become a master one day.

It’s now time to share. Yay!! This is also my favorite element of the learning process. Start educating people on what you’ve learned thus far. Create your own analogies and explain them to others. This is the most satisfying experience in the world, believe me.  

Finally, we must reflect and examine the entire process in order to bridge the gaps. Just use feedback you obtained throughout the teaching phase.

How to Apply the Feynman Technique to Your Creative Process

The Feynman Technique is a three-step process that helps to generate new ideas and solve problems.

It consists of the following steps:

1) Break the problem into smaller pieces, 

2) Think up as many possible solutions as you can, and 

3) Look at each solution and figure out its flaws.

This technique is a great way to generate new ideas in any situation where you need to come up with fresh ideas or solve problems that have been nagging you for days.

The first and foremost thing about the Feynman technique is that you have to forget about everything you have read or heard about the topic. 

Few Tips for memorizing faster

I am an avid learner, and a few pointers helped me memorize important things. Simply keep these study hacks in mind the next time you’re studying something new.

1. Use Spaced repetitions

According to Wikipedia, Spaced repetition is an evidence-based learning technique that is usually performed with flashcards. Newly introduced and more difficult flashcards are shown more frequently, while older and less difficult flashcards are shown less frequently in order to exploit the psychological spacing effect. The use of spaced repetition has been proven to increase the rate of learning.

Refreshing your memory at regular intervals might assist you in remembering things.

2. Use Mnemonics

We’ve all used this strategy as kids to help us recall difficult subjects during exams. There are many different sorts of mnemonics, such as acronyms, rhyming with a song, and Acrostics (forming your own acronyms).

3. Write it down

This is also something which we have done quite commonly during our school days. Writing it down helps you to remember as well. 

4. Have someone assess you

We all hated examinations. But back then, all of the examinations were designed to make us study more successfully, rather than to see us fail.

5. Finally, practice active recall

Yes, it sounds easy, but it will help you recall essential concepts in the long term.

You may now clearly relate your childhood memories with the learning approaches that we used to follow in school. Please keep in mind that they are always valuable, regardless of your age. Try implementing them from today.

The Feynman Technique and Why You Should Be Using it in Your Testing Practices?

AI can be trained to perform the most mundane aspects of testing with the push of a button. AI is not only capable of performing large-scale tasks, but it is also more objective when it comes to finding bugs that humans might overlook.

The Feynman Technique is a method that can help you quickly find and eliminate bugs from your code. Understanding the system more deeply and learning more about it, as well as attempting to divide the entire behavior down into smaller processes, could benefit us in testing efficiently.

Steps to Take in the Feynman Technique to Identify Software Bugs

The Feynman approach is a three-step procedure for identifying and rectifying software defects. It is a method of problem-solving that is based on the scientific method and logical reasoning.

1) The Feynman approach begins by stating what the application should and should not do.

2) Next, identify all conceivable system inputs, including incorrect input. To map out all possible inputs for the system, use Google Sheets or Excel.

3) After identifying all faulty inputs, conduct a simulation or test to determine which inputs would create the intended errors in step 1.

Tips and tricks to use Feynman technique effectively

You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way.”

— Marvin Minsky

– Stay Open-Minded: The first and foremost thing to keep in mind while using the Feynman technique is to stay open-minded. You will have to remove all preconceived notions from your mind.

– Explore the Question: The next thing is to explore the question. You must continually ask yourself why you are exploring this particular question.

– Try to Find a New Problem: Whenever you find an answer to a particular question, try and find a new problem. You can ask yourself why you are trying to solve it.

– Keep the question broad: The questions that you choose should be broad questions. They should be the type of questions that will help you break the current mold and find a new solution to a problem.

Conclusion: Becoming a Better Software Tester with The Feynman Technique

Learning is a time-consuming process, as is testing, but it is one of the most crucial aspects of the software development process. The Feynman Method is a tried-and-true method for learning and improving your testing skills.

The Feynman Technique is a proven way to approach creative problems and find new solutions. It is a systematic method that allows us to forget about everything that we know and let our unconscious mind bring forth novel ideas by asking the right questions and exploring them thoroughly. This technique enables us to approach any new technology, problem, or creative idea from a clean slate, without any preconceived notions.

We believe these tips and techniques will help you to learn smartly and efficiently. So next time, you can recall “The Feynman Technique” before learning any new tool or technology.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

— Henry Ford

Keep learning and stay younger!

Read more similar blogs by Pricilla Bilavendran:

How To Be An Open-Minded Tester?

Is there a way for software test engineers to manage stress in this culture of hustle?

A Tester’s Gambit

How To Be An Open-Minded Tester? 


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