Test Development: Innovations and Lessons Learned in Visual Studio .NET

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Principled Test Development and Templates The AICPA developed item and task templates in order to implement a principled test design orientation to the examination These templates helped YYePG Proudly Presents, Thx For Support!
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constrain the complexity of systems development, simpli ed the psychometric analysis of the results, and allowed automated item generation to build a large item inventory quickly This was particularly important to the development of our simulations, case-based scenarios with a variety of performance assessments embedded in them Using the discipline of templates, we found that we could work with subject matter experts to develop a single, large simulation, codify its features in a template, and then generate multiple versions of that simulation that incorporated some or all of the features of the template Figure 121 depicts the constrained user interface we developed for all simulations A familiar tab metaphor was used to allow candidates to move through the exhibits and input elds at their own pace and in any order The tabs that require a candidate response have a pencil graphic that is grayed out only after a candidate has responded to any part of the tab The candidate can then see at a glance if any tab has been left unanswered There is also a generic help screen, calculator, spreadsheet function, and screen split available at all times within the simulation In Figure 121, the balance sheet task is in the foreground In the spreadsheet the candidate may only operate on valid input elds The cell accepts both formulae and numerical answers If the candidate had split the screen, all input elds would be on the lower half and tabs containing exhibits would appear above Further work is needed to de ne templates more rigorously We found that creative subject matter experts could use our templates to develop new, unanticipated kinds of question Since we had not anticipated such questions, the scoring speci cations that supported the development templates were inadequate We also learned that it is very dif cult to anticipate how different competent candidates will solve the same problem During each administration, we discover additional, unanticipated, correct responses to tasks within our simulations While better de nition of the templates will reduce this problem, it is also clear that, until we are con dent we understand the full range of acceptable responses, pretesting is a critical part of the development process
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Use of Authoritative Reference Material CPAs routinely have to prepare written communications to clients concerning the results of their work These communications often rely heavily on the speci cations provided in professional standards ( authoritative literature ) We successfully developed a task that demonstrates test takers ability to research the authoritative literature to create these communications This task requires the test takers to conduct a search in the authoritative literature, select the appropriate exemplar text, and construct a client letter An example of the searchable database is provided in Figure 122 The search engine is the same as that available from the vendors of the authoritative literature tool as it is used in industry and academia The result of the search can be copied and then pasted into the input eld on the response tab
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Copyright # 2003 by the American Institute of Certi ed Public Accountants, Inc Reprinted with permission
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Copyright # 2003 by the American Institute of Certi ed Public Accountants, Inc Reprinted with permission
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Where paragraphs are to be copied, these are selected as a single unit in order to constrain the universe of possible correct answers that might be supplied in the input eld The copy-and-paste functionality was developed to work at the paragraph level only; that is, a full paragraph would be pasted in the tab to eliminate the possibility that a candidate would make a copy-and-paste mistake by including partial sentences or paragraphs Response functionality needs to be more tightly controlled by the software we use to administer the test The examination includes other performance tasks that require independent generation of prose We discovered that test takers sometimes used the response interface for the written communication task as a staging area for the development of their response for the authoritative literature task They did not use the response interface provided and produced responses that were correct, but did not match the electronic key for the item in our scoring rubric Candidates also substituted copies of authoritative literature for the generation of their own prose in the other performance task It was unclear from our scoring speci cations when this constituted a correct answer or plagiarism This is true because entry-level CPAs are frequently called upon to generate rst drafts of memorandums using canned material and excerpts from authoritative literature Deciding when a candidate is doing this appropriately as opposed to trying to beat the test is a challenge It is apparent that a close collaboration between system designers and subject matter experts is needed to resole problems when test takers give unexpected, and sometimes correct, responses Automated Item Generation Multiple-choice item developers and case study or performance task authors are limited resources It is important to capitalize on the skills and time of these subject matter experts and disciplined or principled approaches are designed to allow this After templates had been established the next major innovation we attempted was the automatic generation of variants of multiplechoice items and simulations so the subject matter experts could concentrate on generating new material The variants would have surface features of items changed, and could be considered clones of their parent source In the case of multiple-choice items, it was possible to generate a large number of variants However, the new items often were so similar to the original item that they could not be considered as additions to the item inventory in the same way as entirely new items Because of the rules for assembly that limit the presence of similar items on a complete test form, if one of these were selected the other variants would not be eligible for inclusion Although these enemies could appear in different test forms, they could not be used within a form to ensure full coverage of a topic area The likelihood of enemy item conditions was increased dramatically due to the practice of generating many item variants The need for additional expert reviews of completed forms has the effect of decreasing the amount of time the subject matter experts could devote to the
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