Sunday, November 13, 2011

Adaptive Assessment

I attended a thought-provoking session facilitated by @chrischampion yesterday(11/12/11) at EdCamp Harrisburg. The session focused on “doing different things” versus just “doing things differently.” Chris pushed the audience to really think creatively about the possibilities for technology’s impact on learning and to go beyond the immediate efficiencies realized by using technology. One topic that Chris explored was adaptive testing. I tweeted:

#edcamphbg instead of online quiz with immediate feedback, try adaptive testing @chrischampion

The following tweet thread ensued:

@apetroski "Adaptive testing" ? Can you explain? #edcamphbg

@lauriev88 short version of adaptive testing for twitter = student's answer to question determines their next question . . .

@apetroski Hmmm...would love to hear more. #edcamphbg

So lauriev88, this blog post is in response to your request. I’m not an adaptive testing expert by any means, but it is a topic I’ve investigated in a number of classes I teach (LTMS 510 and LTMS 608 in in the HU graduate program) and in a couple of projects we’ve pursued through the Center for Advanced Entertainment and Learning Technologies at Harrisburg University.

The common assessment approach is to provide the same test to each student. Adaptive assessments dynamically adjust for each student based on their performance as they answer questions in the assessment. The question sequence and difficulty is based on their performance on previous questions.

Adaptive assessment goes beyond randomized assessment. In a randomized assessment, students might receive the questions in a different order than another student or receive a random set of questions from a question pool. Another randomized approach is to present the answers in a randomized order for each student. In all of these cases the assessment is still not adaptive. The assessment doesn’t change based on the student’s performance. In an adaptive assessment, a student who answers question #1 incorrectly will receive a different question #2 than the student who answers question #2 correctly. In the session, Chris also gave an example of a student being able to complete an exam in a short series of questions by answering the most difficult questions correctly while another student might experience a longer series of questioning or even be directed to remediation before completing the assessment, based on their performance.

Here are links to just a few of the resources to provide a more in-depth exploration of adaptive testing.

- Computer-adaptive testing: an innovative tool for teachers, students
- C.A.T Central
- JATT Special Issue on Adaptive Testing: Welcome and Overview
- SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium
- Computer-Adaptive Testing Poses Challenges
- Adaptive and Interactive Assessments with E-Learning

As Chris emphasized in the session, adaptive testing is most often experienced in certification exams. A number of the educational publishers (e.g. Pearson, Edison, etc.) also employ versions of adaptive testing as an assessment option. In these cases there is a large investment of time and dollars to create and validate the assessments. But, there are ways that you can begin to use the basic constructs of adaptive assessment in the classroom without a large dollar investment (time will still need to be invested).

- Moodle Lesson (Lesson in Moodle: An Illustrated Guide, Adaptive mode in Moodle Quiz is not truly adaptive assessment)
- “Go to Page Based on Answer” in Google Forms
- Assessment Center
- FastWeb
- WebExaminer

I hope that’s more lauriev88. Thanks for asking. It was good to go back and reference some information about adaptive testing that I hadn’t looked at in a while. And, it’s got me started on preparation for LTMS 510: Learning Technologies and Solutions for the spring semester. And, thanks again to @chrischampion for the session that got this discussion, and blog post, started.