Methods and Tools for Online Objective Testing

Methods and Tools for Online Objective Testing

Gennaro Costagliola (Università degli Studi di Salerno, Italy), Filomena Ferrucci (Università degli Studi di Salerno, Italy) and Vittorio Fuccella (Università degli Studi di Salerno, Italy)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch202
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Abstract

Online Testing, also known as Computer Assisted Assessment (CAA), is a sector of e-learning aimed at assessing learner’s knowledge through e-learning means. In recent years, the means for knowledge evaluation have evolved in order to satisfy the necessity of evaluating a big mass of learners in strict times: objective tests, more rapidly assessable, have gained a heavier weight in the determination of learners’ results. Multiple Choice question type is extremely popular in objective tests, since, among other advantages, a large number of tests based on it can be easily corrected automatically. These items are composed of a stem and a list of options. The stem is the text that states the question. The only correct answer is called the key, whilst the incorrect answers are called distractors (Woodford & Bancroft, 2005).
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Introduction: Online Testing

Online Testing, also known as Computer Assisted Assessment (CAA), is a sector of e-learning aimed at assessing learner’s knowledge through e-learning means. In recent years, the means for knowledge evaluation have evolved in order to satisfy the necessity of evaluating a big mass of learners in strict times: objective tests, more rapidly assessable, have gained a heavier weight in the determination of learners’ results.

Multiple Choice question type is extremely popular in objective tests, since, among other advantages, a large number of tests based on it can be easily corrected automatically. These items are composed of a stem and a list of options. The stem is the text that states the question. The only correct answer is called the key, whilst the incorrect answers are called distractors (Woodford & Bancroft, 2005).

Several commercial and Open Source software systems are available for managing and administering online tests. At present, most online testing systems are part of a more general purpose e-learning system, often called Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Management System (CMS). These products offer a complete set of functionalities for e-learning, both for online learning and for blended learning. They are primarily used for administering online learning material, commonly referred to as Learning Objects (LOs). Online testing systems can be evaluated from the support of a list of desirable features, analyzed in the sequel.

In online testing it is important to administer tests composed of good quality questions (items). By the term “quality” we intend the potential of an item in effectively discriminating between strong and weak learners and in obtaining tutor’s desired difficulty level. There are statistical models which can help tutors in understanding whether their multiple choice items have good performances or not. Statistics can be displayed or used in online testing systems for determining question quality.

Another important aspect of e-learning, which has also been applied to online testing, is the standardization of e-learning systems. Standardization efforts in e-learning are mainly aimed at achieving interoperability among LMS and LO authoring tools. For online testing it can be important to share test data and to track learners’ interaction during test execution. This is valuable information for understanding the learner’s behavior when taking a test: in the past, several experiments have been carried out to this extent.

The rest of this article is organized as follows: the next section describes some basic principles of assessment, gives some basic definitions and introduces objective tests; the subsequent section focuses on item quality and its management in online testing systems; then, another section, called “Online Testing and Standardization”, is devoted to describe the standardization process and its application to online testing; the subsequent section describes online testing systems, presenting a parade of the most desirable features for these systems and a survey on their support in some of the most popular LMSs; before concluding, a description of some experimental features treated in research literature is presented.

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Assessment And Objective Tests

In the last years objective tests, as an integrating part of the learning process, have aroused a growing interest in educators. Nevertheless, objective tests are often designed with superficiality, ignoring the indications that docimology has achieved through research activity and experiments.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distractors: the incorrect answers in the list of options of a multiple choice item.

Interoperability: (among software systems): the capability to communicate, execute programs, or transfer data among various functional units in a manner that requires the user to have little or no knowledge of the unique characteristics of those units. (ISO/IEC 2382-01).

Online Testing: sector of e-learning aimed at assessing learner’s knowledge through e-learning means.

Objective Tests: tests composed of questions which have some constraints on the performance (closed stimulus) and whose answer must be chosen by the learner among a list of options (closed answer).

Item Discrimination: statistical indicator from Item Analysis model which expresses the information of how well a multiple choice item discriminates between strong and weak students.

Learning Management System (LMS): the software platform for delivering, tracking and managing training. The main features of an LMS include: course management, learners enrollment, online activity tracking, etc.

Multiple Choice Item: question in which a student chooses one answer from a number of choices supplied.

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