Development of Constructed-Response Engineering Items Using a Rapid Prototyping Tool

Katz, Irwin R.
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Constructed-response alternative response modes rapid prototyping tool


This report is a case study of the process of creating experimental items for a new Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Engineering Test. Using a prototyping tool called the Free-Response Authoring and Delivery System (FRADS), a single test developer generated 55 computer-based test items that require either complex constructed responses or multiple-choice answers. Many of the items underwent significant evolution from their beginning as specifications written by engineering professors. Using FRADS, the test developer crafted new versions of items by exploring alternative response modes (constructed-response vs. multiple-choice, numeric input vs. icon movement, or other alternative tool choices) in addition to creating computer-based versions of the initially specified items. The creation of the constructed-response items is particularly noteworthy, because without the prototyping software, this project would likely have required programming staff. Instead, one test developer, working alone, was able to generate, evaluate, and modify these complex constructed-response items. Although presented in the context of a specific exam, the case study is relevant to other testing programs as a model of how new item types can be quickly and inexpensively explored using rapid prototyping tools.

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