Guest author: Tim Burnett, Product Marketing Consultant, Chair of the e-Assessment Association and Vice-Chair of the EATP
Authenticity in testing and the increasing importance of the user’s voice were some of the key trends to come out of the European Association of Test Publishers (EATP) conference this September.
Furthermore, it’s clear that certification and awarding organizations value quality tools they can rapidly configure, deploy, and scale to meet their needs during these disruptive days.
As a guide to what’s happening right now in our industry, we’ve identified seven trends emerging from Europe and beyond.
1. Tests need to be authentic: The demand for richer and more interactive item types is on the rise
Multiple Choice is a highly respected approach for knowledge-based testing. However, the pandemic has disrupted the traditional security controls which have protected question banks and tests.
Combined with the move by many institutions to use more authentic approaches to testing, the use of technology-enhanced items is on the rise. Interactive items such as those that can be deployed in Surpass using the new Custom Question Type (CQT) Framework, are helping to provide a cost-effective way to enhance the authenticity of assessments. CQTs not only improve the engagement within a test, but also allow you to test new areas like problem-solving and creativity.
2. Freedom to innovate is critical: Certification and awarding organizations need their own space to create new assessments
Assessment professionals across North America and Europe are increasingly keen to try out new approaches to testing. Yet not all test service providers allow full access to their item banking and test assembly technology, which is restricting more experimental and innovative test development progress.
However, in-house assessment experts are keen to work directly with assessment platforms so that they can try new item types and a range of test configuration options. One example we saw at this year’s EATP conference included mixing open navigation and forward-only sections within the same test, along with automatic audio prompts and audio capture for English Language testing. By having direct access to these features, the test development teams were able to quickly try out their ideas in a controlled environment, without being subject to increased supplier service costs.
3. Users matter: Excellent candidate and user experience reigns supreme
Users expect the most seamless and intuitive user experience when it comes to test development and delivery. In the past, User Experience has often been an afterthought, but it was clear at EATP this year that test publishers want more than just a processing tool, they want it to be clearly organized, easy to understand, and helpful. During his closing keynote, Edtech veteran, Marten Roorda, included the importance of creating a great experience in his ten commandments for the industry. User experience has always been a high priority within Surpass, and we’re proud to support our customers in learning about the needs of the candidate.
“To enable test candidates to perform to the best of their ability, it is vital to ensure the processes, technology, and resources in use are fit for purpose. Gathering feedback from end-users is the best way to gain insight into the experience from their perspective to be able to make improvements.”Jessica Fowler, Client Relationship Manager – Innovate Awarding
4. Adaptability and scalability is key: Awarding and Certification bodies expect a service that can pivot quickly without the risks of service decline
Whilst many organizations follow very similar test development processes, delivery requirements and security priorities can often vary quite dramatically. Certification and Awarding organizations need to be able to select the right solution for their individual business needs across multiple suppliers. This has made partnerships between organizations like Surpass and Examity, ProctorU and Talview all the more important.
5. Remote is a success: Hybrid test development is the way forward
We’ve all seen how many organizations made the rapid shift to remote and online-based proctored assessments. It’s been a very public discussion, but behind the scenes, another remote revolution has been taking place. With travel bans and meeting restrictions, in-person test development workshops have been severely impacted.
Many organizations have turned to remote meetings supported by assessment technology. One rapid realization from the situation is that the dynamics of remote working are very different, but technology can help. By using purpose-built features such as Tasks and Standard Setting within Surpass, organizations have been able to continue item replenishment.
What’s more, there appears to be an overwhelming mood to carry on using this technology. The main benefit is that most of the straightforward review work can take place remotely before an in-person meeting. Then when teams do get together in-person, they can focus on items that require the most attention, along with the all-important social bonding.
6. Human decision-making is essential: AI can reduce the workload, but humans must remain in control
ArtificiaI intelligence-enhanced technology is here, no one can deny that, but are high-stakes assessment programs ready for it? In the early days of the pandemic, many technology providers saw AI as the chance to meet a sudden surge in volume, whilst keeping costs low. However, the complexity of setup and configuration, and the views by many that it is not quite ready to pass the final verdict on a candidate’s test performance mean that many organizations are being cautious.
Whilst Surpass uses AI to enhance the test development and delivery process, it still keeps crucial decision-making firmly in the hands of the user. The Surpass team is also keeping a very close eye on the developments of EU, Canadian, and UK regulations on the use of AI for high-risk activities like assessment.
7. Speed to market is everything: The ability to pivot fast and deliver high quality is crucial to survive
We all know that item development, particularly for an entirely new certification or assessment can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s why it’s important to streamline the process as quickly as possible. The final trend has seen organizations increasingly using automation to improve data processing accuracy and efficiency, and strong partnerships to help build and deliver fit-for-purpose products and services.
Surpass therefore brings with it the advantage of the Surpass Community, the strongest in the industry for knowledge sharing and collaboration.