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-- 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:

Discussion revealed there were two different schools of thought driving the interest in technology-based testing at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

What is currently being used at MCCD?

There are several applications currently in use within the District:

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 year.

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 Alan Levine --}
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