Notes from the Field: SmartItems
Written by Tara Williams, Chief Editor, Caveon
For the past year, I’ve been working as a specialist on exam development projects that utilize a new concept in testing – the SmartItem. We’ve created Game of Thrones, Geography, and IT exams, as well as items for many other content areas. It’s been challenging, rewarding, and eye-opening – a process of perpetual discovery. Personally, I’ve taught subject matter experts how to write them, editors how to review them, and have recently been thinking about the ways SmartItems will influence—and possibly improve—our test development processes. So here I am, reporting in from the field to those who are curious about what it’s like to create these items. I will share a couple of the lessons we’ve learned on the ground as we’ve embarked on this psychometric journey.
Avid Lockbox readers have likely heard of SmartItems. However, for anyone new to our e-zine or to the concept in general, SmartItems use special technology during development and delivery so that the item changes each time it is administered and covers the objective completely.
For example, let’s say you have the following objective:
Know the order of the planets from the sun
In traditional exam development, the writer creates a select number of items for this objective, per the blueprint stipulations. The writer chooses, based on his or her own experience or personal preferences, which pieces of the skill to measure – in our case here, which planets to test on. The final product might look something like this; 1 item, as follows:
Which planet is second from the sun?
In contrast, a SmartItem is created within a computerized tool to encompass the entire objective, not just a piece of it. Here’s what the scaffolding of a SmartItem for this objective might look like: