Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment

By Randy Elliot Bennett; William C. Ward | Go to book overview
FIG. 8.13. Example of handwritten digit template.
integer solutions could be formed, each on a lightly colored figure-eight background, if a computer program could be developed to accurately scan these characters, the handwritten option would seem viable. When pilot testing was conducted in the fall of 1988, the scanning algorithm was under development. However, the answer sheets were not scored because (a) a sufficiently reliable scanning algorithm was not developed, and (b) students disliked having to mechanically form the digits more than they disliked having to grid in answers.Additional work on machine recognition of handwritten digits has since been done ( Reid-Green, 1990). Although this work did not focus on mathematics testing, it has implications for that activity. A program to interpret data on financial aid forms was developed by the Advanced Technology Systems group at Educational Testing Service. The forms were scanned and the accuracy of the interpreted characters was evaluated. Six categories of readily detectable scanning errors were identified:
1. Badly formed characters.
2. Erasures or stray marks.
3. Digits overwritten so that lines were too thick.
4. Non-numeric characters in the fields (e.g., a comma).
5. Unrecognizable cursive characters.
6. Extra characters in the field.

In addition to these error types, less easily detected scanning errors proved a problem. Such errors result when the scanning program substitutes another character for the intended one. Poorly formed characters accounted for the majority of substitution errors (e.g., 6 read as 8). The frequency of scanning error suggests that this technology, although promising, is not ready for use in large-scale assessment programs like the SAT.


SUMMARY

The ideal alternatives to multiple-choice questions are short-answer and essay questions scored by readers. Because the scoring process is involved and expensive, these item formats are frequently avoided in large-scale testing programs.

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Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment
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