Cybertesting Behaviors

Cybertesting Behaviors

Jeffrey R. Stowell (Eastern Illinois University, USA) and Wesley D. Allan (Eastern Illinois University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch095


Online instruction and computerized testing has attracted a great deal of attention as college and universities increasingly move toward this mode of teaching and assessment. Many concerns have been raised regarding how to ensure these methods are valid and appealing to students and their parents. Researchers have addressed various facets of these issues; in particular, a number of studies have been published regarding how online assessment may affect student performance and test anxiety. We review the literature in this area and provide corresponding practical and ethical recommendations.
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Historically, providing individualized instruction or feedback to students has been appealing to educators, but the first successful attempt at mechanizing assessment of student learning occurred in the early 1920’s. Educator Sidney Pressey constructed a machine that allowed students to take multiple-choice tests by selecting a button that corresponded to their answer. The machine would indicate if the student’s answer was correct, thus providing immediate feedback (Pressey, 1926). The machine could also force the student to get the correct answer before moving on to the next question. Pressey hoped that the automatization of the clerical duties of teachers “...would leave the teacher more free for her most important work, for developing in her pupils fine enthusiasms, clear thinking and high ideals” (Pressey, 1926, p. 376). Psychologist B. F. Skinner later expanded on this idea of a “teaching machine” that would not only provide immediate feedback to students on their performance, but could be used for self-paced instruction (Skinner, 1958).

As technology progressed, it continued to be adapted to meet educational goals. With the birth of the microcomputer, computerized assessment emerged as an efficient alternative to traditional paper and pencil tests (or even the “teaching machines” of the past). Initially, students could only take these tests on a computer that had the testing software installed, usually in a school computer lab. With the decrease in cost and increase in portability of personal computers, learning programs could be used in other environments, including one’s own home. However, it was not until the 1990’s when the Internet arrived that students could take assessments virtually anytime and anywhere.

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