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-- the Labyrinth May 1993 --

Computer-Based Testing: New Directions

Cynthia B. Leshin, Editor
Assessment methodologies have become an important part of a growing intellectual dialogue of expanded expectations and challenges facing our educational system. In fact, alternative assessment has become the focus of our nation's current educational reform agenda. Educators are beginning to look more closely at cognitive psychology, individual differences, learning styles, aptitude, and performance when designing curriculum. These new learning paradigms continue to reshape and restructure instructional theory and contribute to our changing views and understanding of educational goals. Instructional outcomes are now beginning to focus more on student performance, application of concepts, and the transfer of new knowledge and skills to the workplace.

Dialogue over the last few years has centered around the design and development of alternative tests to measure and assess these new outcomes. These tests take into account individual differences, learning styles, and the assessment of student achievement through providing students with the opportunity to perform or create a product that reflects their true abilities rather than merely have them answer multiple-choice or true-false questions. The result is an explosion of interest in alternative assessment measures such as portfolios, exhibits, journals, case studies, simulations, and adaptive testing. Technology is now being viewed as a tool to administer, monitor, and present new alternative assessment techniques.

However, changes in the way we design and administer tests present major challenges for educators. Additionally, computer-based testing is still in its infancy. Research of the literature reveals that little is being reported in the use of technology for alternative assessment. There are many issues that need to be addressed, explored, discussed, and validated. Issues related to complexity in programming, storage of student data, and development costs seem to challenge efforts in this area.

The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction plans to continue research in this area as well as seek sources for support in the design and development of alternative assessment measures in 1993-94. New technology-based instructional programs developed at MCLI will incorporate alternative assessment measures. We would be happy to provide instructional design support to anyone interested in alternative assessment throughout the District.

This issue of the Labyrinth/Forum is dedicated to the present projects, efforts, and research in alternative assessment that are currently occurring at Maricopa.

Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI)
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