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Unmasking Constructs Through New Technology, Measurement Theory, and Cognitive Science ECD

Gitomer, Drew H.; Bennett, Randy Elliot
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Educational Assessment, Technology, Cognitive Measurement, Evidence-Centered Design (ECD)


Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment, a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Testing and Assessment, provides a compelling view of the future of educational assessment, a future that includes better information about student learning and performance consistent with understandings of cognitive domains and of how students learn. That future also promises a much tighter integration of instruction and assessment. Realizing these ambitions depends on progress in the fields of cognition, technology, and assessment, as well as significant changes in educational policy at local and national levels. In the current report, the authors discuss three efforts--enhanced score reporting, automatic item generation, and evidence-centered design (ECD)--that serve to unmask the constructs that traditionally designed tests measure. ECD provides a methodology for forcing a clarification of the domain and a consistent set of representations that govern what students see and how they are evaluated. A logical extension to ECD, automatic item generation, permits efficient instantiation of ECD's domain representations in terms of higher order task classes, which can themselves become a legitimate way of learning the domain. Finally, the technology of enhanced score reporting can be used to make clear the specifics of what a student needs to work on to improve. These design, item creation, and reporting tools do not guarantee good assessment. But they can help reduce, if not eventually eliminate, the mystery associated with traditional tests, as well as improve the outlook for future assessment.

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