In November we made significant headway in our test development. One essential component of designing a test is defining the concepts/skills we’ll assess and identifying the levels of performance we’ll expect to see students demonstrate. Since this will be an assessment of undergraduates’ IL, we’re drafting plans for a test that will differentiate among students at a beginning level (at or near entry), an intermediate level (at or near completion of lower-division coursework), and an emerging expert level (at or near completion of a bachelor’s degree).
The Advisory Board generated lists of the IL skills, concepts, and dispositions that we have observed among college students throughout their education. We organized those observations so that they fit into the 6 frames of the latest draft of the ACRL Framework for IL in Higher Education. This provided us our first model of how students’ IL changes as they encounter the threshold concepts at the heart of the 6 frames. We will continue to refine our model and use it to guide our development of test items beginning in early 2015.
We have also added details to our plans for using innovative item types that take advantage of the flexibility that’s possible in computer based testing. Innovative items can include images and offer alternative response modes so that we can increase the fidelity that the questions have to students’ research experiences and gauge their knowledge practices and dispositions in ways that have not been possible with traditional multiple-choice questions. For example, innovative items might use an image of typical search results and ask students to select a set of appropriate sources given a specific information need. Determining our full range of item types is the next phase before we begin writing items.
Finally, in November, we began discussions with an expert in educational adaptive technology. We are using resources like Web Accessibility in Mind to incorporate elements of universal design at this early stage of planning for test item types and response systems.
We’re looking forward to a busy winter as we conclude our planning process and begin test development. I’ll keep you up-to-date with another post soon.