Innovative Computerized Tests

The previous sections in this chapter have shown great advances in testing and assessment due to the introduction of computer-based tests. However, a legacy of paper-and-pencil testing—the multiple-choice question—seems to have constrained the way test developers think about assessment: This item type has continued as the predominate format. But there are many skills and abilities that do not lend themselves to assessment with multiple-choice items. For instance, how should a physician's ability to diagnose patients be assessed? One would hope that diagnostic skill would not be assessed by knowledge of static information derived from textbooks. A physician should be able to differentiate disorders with highly similar symptoms by a problem-solving process. Computer-based assessment offers the flexibility to simulate the task of diagnosing disorders and circumvent a critical limitation of paper-and-pencil tests.

Research on innovative item types administered via computer has examined changes designed to improve measurement. Zenisky and Sireci (2002) provide a comprehensive review of innovative item types (e.g., moving objects to create a tree structure, inserting text, editing text, highlighting text, and many other formats).

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