You are the test administrator. You distribute the exam papers, read the instructions aloud, declare the time allotted, watch them answer the exams, then you declare that the time is up and you ask them to pass their papers. More or less, this is the typical scenario in testing.
Now imagine, instead of paper and pencils, your candidates are answering the exam using tablets or iPads.
That would create quite a different scenario, wouldn’t it?
Coupled with the online platforms developed, Tablets, iPads, Notebooks, and other mobile online devices offer various improvements to the testing experience of test-takers, test administrators, and test users alike:
Less Physical Material
Having these devices get rid of the idea of tower-like pile of papers on desks and shelves. Along with the testing platforms developed for online assessments, the devices offer ease in checking, compiling, and interpretation of the data gathered without losing the effectiveness of exams. In the study of Davis, Kong, and McBride, results showed that in administering exams in computer does not have a significant difference in administering exams in tablets or iPads. Also, in comparing administration of exams in paper and in computer, Al-Amri reported that there is no significant effect on the overall validity and reliability if exams on the two testing modes. In the same study, computer familiarity of the students have no effect in the result of the exams. So in answering standardized assessments whether in paper, computer, or mobile devices, results would be relatively the same.
Most online platforms and computerized assessments offer an almost instant report generation and built in interpretation after the candidate has taken the exam. Also, some platforms has the capability of showing the candidate the results immediately after the exam, hence aiding both the candidate and the test user in the assessment process. Traditional paper and pencil exams require manual scoring and interpretation of the results. Using such on a large group would be tedious and tiring for the both the scorer and the interpreter, and consumes much time. Imagine the time saved by the platforms and computerized assessments. The only thing that one should worry about is the comparison of the results to different methods of assessing – interviews, observations, etc.
Behavioral Observation is Possible
One of the problems posed by testing in computers listed in the book, Psychological Testing and Assessment of Cohen, Swerdik, and Sturman is that it would be harder to observe the behavior of the test takers. Testing in smaller devices solves the problem without losing the perks of computerized assessments. Like in the traditional pencil and paper exams, answering in tablets, iPads, or notebooks allow for the behavior – facial expressions, body movements, stances, etc. to be observed and generally, for the administrator to build rapport better. Observations are also possible in people who answer exams in computers but are limited since they are blocked by the whole unit and there would be less movement compared when answering in paper or small devices.
Answer on-site or at home or basically, anywhere with an internet connection. When testing in these devices, there is a possibility of the test acquiring the capabilities of the device itself. The use of webcams, microphones, and speakers of the devices can be integrated on the assessment process, depending on the platform acquired.
Of all these benefits, there are, of course, some issues in the use of these devices are to be considered:
In same study of Davis, Kong, and McBride, the students are asked to comment on their experiences on the device, creating word clouds, and the theme for the “tablet dislikes” had to do with the physical impacts of using the device – glares, neck, finger, uncomfortable, sitting, standing, etc.
The length of the device should also be considered. The PARCC recommends a 9.5 inch tablet size for assessment. as in the study of Davis, Kong, and McBride reported that there are problems in pointing answers due to the 7 inch size of the tablet.
In the study of Noyes and Garland, one of the problems of taking tests in computers are the technical glitches and problems that may arise in the process of assessment. This will pose a little problem if the development behind the platform is a robust one.
Even with these issues, assessment using these devices are cost-effective and has benefits to the organization. Share your thoughts!
Originally posted on LinkedIn last December 15, 2015
Image by Sean MacEntee
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