-- the Labyrinth May 1993 --
Technology-Based Testing: The State of the Art
John Schroeder, CGCC
A new Ocotillo
committee was formed this year to investigate
technology-based testing. Issues researched and discussed
were the following:
- What should a technology-based testing system include?
- What technology is now available for testing?
- What is it going to take to develop a technology-based
testing system (or should we)?
- What are the implications for teaching and learning?
Discussion revealed there were two different schools of
thought driving the interest in technology-based testing at
the Maricopa Community Colleges.
- Computer-generated tests are needed for areas dealing
with hundreds of students in multiple sections that require
standardized minimum performance level outcomes. MAT 077
classes are an example, but other courses might have the
same potential application.
- Computer administered testing is needed to prepare
students for the computerized tests that are used (or will
be in the near future) by state or federal licensing
authorities. Nursing, dental, legal, aviation, and EMT are
some of the areas of perceived need.
What should a tech-based testing system include?
After investigating and reviewing commercially available
testing systems as well as those currently being used in
Maricopa, the following capabilities for a technology-based
testing system are recommended:
- Support for text, color, graphics, sound, and video
- Support for the development of alternative assessment
- Support for random selection of questions
- Support for hard copy of tests
- Capabilities for record keeping of student responses
for reliability / validity purposes
- Support time inputs for timed tests
- Support for utilization records
- Ease of use for students and faculty
- Capability to change, or update questions and feedback
- Available for multiple computer platforms (Mac, IBM,
- The testing mechanism should not be discipline
specific, but usable by all interested disciplines
- Support explanatory feedback during review
What is currently being used at MCCD?
There are several applications currently in use within the
- Nursing faculty at GCC
use a Windows-based program for
testing their students. The test engine is capable of
handling multiple-choice, true/false, matching, and short
answer questions. While still early in its use, it is
perhaps the most mature application developed within the
- Nursing faculty at PC
are using "RN Challenge" as a
- Legal faculty at PC
have some similar applications for
- Aviation Maintenance Technology at CGCC have text
files of 2100 questions for faculty use only.
- Some individual faculty have experimented with LXR as
a test database engine for written tests, but we did not
locate any widespread use or sharing of question databases.>
What is it going to take to develop a technology-based
testing system (or should we)?
The committee has concluded that the capability to deliver a
test across multiple platforms is one of the most critical
issues that should be considered at Maricopa when selecting
or developing a technology-based testing system. There are
database development tools available that are cross-
platform; it would seem that a fast database would be the
logical choice. For example, FoxPro2.5 is currently
available for DOS and Windows with a Macintosh version due
in October; a Unix version is reportedly to follow next
What are the implications for teaching and learning?
Concerns about "computer phobia" do not seem to be a major
hurdle, provided the software uses a consistent interface.
The ability to return to a question and to mark a question
for review is seen by some to reduce student concerns.
Clearly, anything that makes test item analysis easy has the
potential to lead to better teaching and learning.
Review capabilities with explanations on a large selection
of test items will allow the student to cover the material
in depth before they are evaluated. This will enable the
students to insure their understanding of the material and
will lead to broader understanding.
Maricopa Center for
Learning & Instruction (MCLI)
The Internet Connection at MCLI is
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