Henry Braun Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ
Powerful tools of modern technology, such as personal computers, often seem to take on a life of their own, overshadowing the tasks to which they are applied. For this reason alone, it is useful to step back occasionally and reflect both on the actual contributions of the technology and on the costs associated with its use. In so doing we may hope to learn better how to harness technology for our purposes.
This chapter considers the role of computer-based technology in assessment, particularly for the licensing and certification of professionals such as architects, engineers, and physicians. It should be noted at the outset that whatever the contribution of this chapter, it rests on informed speculation rather than on a completed formal evaluation. The case study that underlies the presentation concerns the development of computer-based simulations of architectural practice. As of July 1992, 4 years of work have been completed and 4 more are planned. The prototyping phase is nearly complete and preparations for operational implementation are being finalized. Despite the somewhat fragmentary nature of the results, there has been some opportunity to consider the impact of technology. Hopefully, our thoughts and reflections will prove useful to others.
Perhaps the first contribution of the new technology has been to stimulate many professions and licensing agencies to reexamine their assessment procedures. The advent of relatively inexpensive personal computers connected through local