Adaptive Testing

Authored by: Wim J. van der Linden

Handbook of Item Response Theory

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466514331
eBook ISBN: 9781315117430
Adobe ISBN:


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Although generally hailed as innovative and important, adaptive testing is not something new. The precursors of the current standardized educational and psychological tests were oral and clinical examinations. Any oral examiner assessing the cognitive abilities of a student knows that it is pointless to ask questions that are too easy or difficult. The answers to these questions are likely to be correct or incorrect, respectively, and collecting them as yet does not add much information. Instead, the typical oral exam consists of an attempt by the examiner to see how far up or down the difficulty ladder he could go with subsequent settlement on the level that matches the examinee's ability. Two crucial factors permit an oral examiner to operate effectively in this adaptive way: a well-developed skill to infer the examinee's ability from his answers and accurate knowledge of the difficulties of the questions prepared for the exam.

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