The future of higher education assessment depends in large measure, as does the future of higher education itself, on developments in computer and audiovisual technology. The influx of technology into elementary and secondary education creates new modes of individualized learning that higher education will need to accommodate and extend to foster student development. The influx of technology into the workplace creates new demands for flexibility in learning and thinking that higher education will need to prepare students to cope with. The influx of technology into the larger society raises expectations about efficiency and value-added benefits that higher education will need to respond to in a new accountability.
In Chapter 18, Samuel Messick explores these themes by addressing three interrelated issues. He argues, first, that the new technology-based modes of learning will lead to a widening and deepening of individual differences in learning and thinking styles that will need to be accommodated by both assessment and pedagogy in higher education. Second, the technologyinstigated rapidity of change in both education and the workplace requires that flexibility in thinking and problem solving become a high priority educational objective in its own right. Third, the cognitive and stylistic demands of the new media themselves will encourage the development of new informationprocessing skills in such areas as information search, visuospatial representation, and, especially, computer-enhanced problem solving, which will need to be validly assessed both for providing feedback during learning and for certifying competence.
Chapter 18 concludes with a discussion of the promise and threat of the virtual university. The promise is that electronic delivery of both assessment and instruction will dramatically increase access and efficiency while reducing costs for the major educational functions of the university--except those, such as the socialization of youth into the adult world, where human interaction appears to be imperative. Messick leaves the threat unspoken, lurking just beneath the surface of the promise. The threat is that technology may so alter