Guidelines for Test Design and Construction

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Step 1: Defining the constructs you want to measure and outline the proposed content of the Test

Aptitude tests for job applicants :

First conduct a job analysis (task analysis) : listing the important components of the position you are trying to fill.
The Job analysis will contain the critical incidents,
A list of work related behaviors which are essential for successful completion of the job.
A well designed aptitude test will contain items which measure the entire cross-section of critical incidents.
To paraphrase, a properly constructed test will measure a representative sample of most critical incidents.

Test Planners must consider a variety of issues :

1. What are the topics and materials to be tested ?

2. What Kind of Questions should be constructed ?

3. What item and test formats should be used ?

4. When, where, and how is the test to be given ?

5. How should the tests be scored ?

Answers to questions 1,2, and 3 covered in Chapter 2

Answers to questions 4 and 5 covered in Chapter 3

1. What are the topics and materials to be tested ?

For employment aptitude tests, this calls for the job analysis with special attention being paid to the critical incidents.
For achievement tests, this calls for a content analysis in which the key subject areas are listed and the percentage of the test to be devoted to each individual subject area is decided.
Content analysis for classroom achievement tests can be highly subjective if created by a single individual with no feedback by knowledgeable colleagues.
2.What Kind of questions should be constructed ?

The answer to this question is partially dependent upon the Educational Objectives you want to include in the test.
Since the 1950’s researchers have developed several taxonomies (or hierarchical categorization) of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor objectives to be addressed within testing situations.

2 Taxonomies of Cognitive Objectives

Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:
The Cognitive Domain. : This list was developed by Bloom & Krathwohl in 1956, and the latest revision appeared in 1984)

Gerlach & Sullivan taxonomy of 1967

The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives:
The Cognitive Domain

Lists 6 categories which vary in difficulty with respect to cognitive abilities or level of understanding.
I. Knowledge : recall of specific facts. Knowledge questions can be identified by key verbs such as define, identify, list, and name.
II. Comprehension : understanding the purpose or meaning of something. Comprehension questions can be identified with key verbs such as convert, explain, and summarize.
III. Application : using information and ideas in novel situations. Application questions can be identified with key verbs such as compute, determine, and solve.
IV. Analysis : Breaking down large pieces of information in order to examine the structure and interrelationships among its component parts. Analysis questions can be identified by key verbs such as analyze, differentiate, and relate.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives (continued)

V. Synthesis : Combining various elements or parts into a structural whole. Synthesis questions can be identified by key verbs such as design, devise, formulate, and plan.
VI. Evaluation : making a judgement based upon reasoning. Evaluation questions can be identified by key verbs such as compare, critique, evaluate, and judge.

These 6 categories are progressively inclusive.
In order for a test taker to succeed on questions from the higher categories, they must have the ability to answer the lower order categories.
i.e. Critiquing a position or theory requires Knowledge, and the ability to analyze and synthesize the subject material to be evaluated.

The Gerlach & Sullivan taxonomy of Cognitive...
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