Metrics for the Evaluation of Test-Delivery Systems

Metrics for the Evaluation of Test-Delivery Systems

Salvatore Valenti (Università Politecnica delle Marche-Ancona, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch404
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Abstract

Most solutions to the problem of delivering course content supporting both student learning and assessment nowadays imply the use of computers, thanks to the continuous advances of information technology. According to Bull (1999), using computers to perform assessment is more contentious than using them to deliver content and to support student learning. In many papers, the terms computer-assisted assessment (CAA) and computer-based assessment (CBA) are often used interchangeably and somewhat inconsistently. The former refers to the use of computers in assessment. The term encompasses the uses of computers to deliver, mark, and analyze assignments or examinations. It also includes the collation and analysis of data gathered from optical mark readers. The latter (that will be used in this paper) addresses the use of computers for the entire process, including assessment delivery and feedback provision (Charman & Elmes, 1998). A typical CBA system is composed of the following. • Test-Management System (TMS) - that is, a tool providing the instructor with an easy-to-use interface, the ability to create questions and to assemble them into tests, and the possibility of grading the tests and making some statistical evaluations of the results • Test-Delivery System (TDS) - that is, a tool for the delivery of tests to the students. The tool may be used to deliver tests using paper and pencil, or a stand-alone computer on a LAN (local area network) or over the Web. The TDS may be augmented with a Web enabler used to deliver the tests over the Internet. In many cases, producers distribute two different versions of the same TDS: one to deliver tests either on single computers or on a LAN and the other to deliver tests over the WWW (World Wide Web). This is the policy adopted, for instance, by Cogent Computing Co. (2004) with CQuest LAN and CQuest Net. The TMS and TDS modules may be integrated in a single application as, for instance, Perception developed by Question Mark Computing (2004), or may be delivered as separate applications as it occurs for MicroTest and MicroGrade developed by Chariot Software Group (2004).
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Introduction

Most solutions to the problem of delivering course content supporting both student learning and assessment nowadays imply the use of computers, thanks to the continuous advances of information technology. According to Bull (1999), using computers to perform assessment is more contentious than using them to deliver content and to support student learning. In many papers, the terms computer-assisted assessment (CAA) and computer-based assessment (CBA) are often used interchangeably and somewhat inconsistently. The former refers to the use of computers in assessment. The term encompasses the uses of computers to deliver, mark, and analyze assignments or examinations. It also includes the collation and analysis of data gathered from optical mark readers. The latter (that will be used in this paper) addresses the use of computers for the entire process, including assessment delivery and feedback provision (Charman & Elmes, 1998).

A typical CBA system is composed of the following.

  • Test-Management System (TMS) - that is, a tool providing the instructor with an easy-to-use interface, the ability to create questions and to assemble them into tests, and the possibility of grading the tests and making some statistical evaluations of the results

  • Test-Delivery System (TDS) - that is, a tool for the delivery of tests to the students. The tool may be used to deliver tests using paper and pencil, or a stand-alone computer on a LAN (local area network) or over the Web. The TDS may be augmented with a Web enabler used to deliver the tests over the Internet. In many cases, producers distribute two different versions of the same TDS: one to deliver tests either on single computers or on a LAN and the other to deliver tests over the WWW (World Wide Web). This is the policy adopted, for instance, by Cogent Computing Co. (2004) with CQuest LAN and CQuest Net.

The TMS and TDS modules may be integrated in a single application as, for instance, Perception developed by Question Mark Computing (2004), or may be delivered as separate applications as it occurs for MicroTest and MicroGrade developed by Chariot Software Group (2004).

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Metrics For The Evaluation Of A Tds

Three main functional modules roughly compose a TDS: a student interface, a question-management unit, and a test-delivery unit. Therefore, our framework for the evaluation of a TDS is defined in terms of criteria that may support the evaluation of each functional module and other criteria for the evaluation of the whole system, as shown in Table 1.

Key Terms in this Chapter

HTML: HTML is the acronym for hypertext markup language, the authoring language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. HTML defines the structure and layout of a Web document by using a variety of tags and attributes. HTML is derived from SGML, although it is not a strict subset.

CGI: CGI is the acronym for common gateway interface. A CGI program is any program designed to accept and return data that conforms to the CGI specification. CGI programs are the most common way for Web servers to interact dynamically with users. The program could be written in any programming language including C, Perl, Java, or Visual Basic.

JavaScript: a scripting language developed to enable Web authors to add dynamic content to sites. Although it shares many of the features and structures of the Java language, it was developed independently. It is supported by recent browsers from Netscape and Microsoft.

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