Mobile Assessment Applications and Training for Professional Examinations: The Case of Project Management Certifications

Mobile Assessment Applications and Training for Professional Examinations: The Case of Project Management Certifications

Fusun Sahin, Dominic Mentor
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-3996-8.ch016
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Mobile-assessment applications provide various conveniences to working professionals who prepare for a certification exam. The purposes of this chapter are highlighting the usefulness of m-assessment apps to learners and informing the field about the needs in this area. The chapter focuses on the m-assessment apps in terms of preparing for project management certification examinations. The authors developed nine criteria based on learning theories and literature on m-assessment. These criteria organized important features of m-apps under three categories: 1) general user experience, 2) learning experience, and 3) practice test-experience. The authors also evaluate the features of m-assessment apps found in the app spaces using the criteria. Results communicate how the examined apps perform against the criteria and emphasize different ways that these features can help learners. The chapter concludes with future directions based on the updated requirements of the project management certification exam and the need for more apps that implement theoretically supported features.
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Background and Goal

Receiving a professional credential is a common pursuit of professionals who want to prove and upgrade their capabilities. Some credentials are mandatory to perform professionally, such as medical certifications, whereas others are optional, such as a photography certification. In any certification process, candidates must pass at least one assessment to receive certification. Yet, many professionals find it challenging to prepare for credentialing assessments while working full time. Mobile learning (hereafter, m-learning) and mobile assessment (hereafter, m-assessment) tools (i.e., tools that enable learning and assessment on mobile devices) alleviate this challenge for working professionals. To exemplify how m-learning and m-assessment tools can provide unique convenience to candidates, the study team picked an internationally recognized project management certification program. The Project Management Professional (PMP)®1 is a highly respected certification program in the area of project management. Receiving this certification requires passing an exam. The study team applied lenses from m-learning theories, andragogy, and m-assessment measurement perspectives to build criteria taxonomy to help elucidate interrogation of the mobile apps (hereafter, m- apps), which focus practicing for the PMP examination.

M-assessment Apps for Practice Tests

M-assessments provide the convenience to take tests anywhere, anytime, and by anyone (Sahin & Mentor, 2019). People preparing for professional examinations are among those who feel the need to crunch study and practice as much as possible. Many commuters, for example, productively use their commute time by learning on the go (Mentor, 2016).

In addition to convenience, other benefits of m-apps include being personal; the ability to pick up where you left off via a login on multidevice access (if well designed); immediate feedback on performance; and stimulation with multimodal accommodations, which aid memorization, retention, and critical thinking. The multimodal elements also aid higher order thinking because the m-assessments are delivered through technology-enhanced question types, such as drag-and-drop, ordering, matching, and screen interactive hot-spots. The user’s hypermedia interaction with these rich multimodal assessments have cognitive importance because they leverage, albeit on a small but impactful level, learning by doing principles. The interactive engagement aids learning, thinking, and comprehension. M-assessments also enhance drill-and-practice elements at a higher level because they mimic the actual operational summative tests that candidates take and help learners improve their learning through immediate feedback from practice tests. These are good examples of behaviorist, scaffolding and cognitive load learning theories to name but a few, applied in practical ways to help learners, manage their learning, keep them engaged and stimulated, and work toward their goals.


Theoretical Framework

The application of m-learning theories to the certificate and compliance training review process applied in this chapter allowed the study team to more closely look at m-assessments in various contexts. The team divided the practical use of the theoretical lenses into two categories: individual use and group use. The team demarcated the theoretical lenses into these two categories because (a) not all m-learning apps need to or cater for both uses, (b) the individual ultimately owns all learning, and (c) not all individuals want to connect with others when engaging in m-learning. Some learners desire to forge their own individual learning with an m-learning app, so the collaborative aspect could be a distraction or a source of negative competition, not the strength and support to tap into for m-learning benefit. The study team applied the learning theories as follows:

  • Individual uses

    • o

      Cognitive Load. Applies to both individual and group interaction in terms of how the app caters for either use

    • o

      Element Interactivity. A sub-branch of cognitive load in terms of digital device input and output elements

    • o

      Constructivist Learning. Building on existing knowledge and experience (Parsons & MacCallum, 2020)

    • o

      Behaviorist learning through the m-learning environment (Slavkovic & Savic, 2015)

  • Group uses

    • o

      Sociocultural theory of human learning

    • o

      Collaborative learning

    • o

      Communities of practice

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Responsiveness: Refers to how the content is accommodating to the user when accessing the app on a tablet, a desktop computer, a laptop computer, or a multitude of mobile phone screens.

Device Responsiveness: Refers to adjusting the user’s device for both output to the user and potential input from a user for interactive content such as user’s responses to quizzes and seeing results.

Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL): Employing computers in the teaching and learning of a language.

Social Connectedness: A sense of affiliation with others in a similar community, and a sense of belonging.

Cognitive Load: Amount of information that working memory can hold at one time.

Mobile-Assisted Language Learning (MALL): Language learning that is assisted or enhanced through the use of a handheld mobile device.

Device Agnosticism: Being able to access the same digital data and platforms regardless of the device type used.

Mobile Assessment (M-Assessment): Mobile assessment stands for assessing learners via mobile devices.

Summative Tests: The assessment of a test taker’s knowledge and skills at the completion of a program of learning.

Psychometrics: Field of study concerned with the theory and techniques of measurement applied to testing, measurement, assessment, and related activities.

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