TitleIs a Computerized Adaptive Test More Motivating Than a Fixed-Item Test?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLing, G, Attali, Y, Finn, B, Stone, EA
JournalApplied Psychological Measurement
AbstractComputer adaptive tests provide important measurement advantages over traditional fixed-item tests, but research on the psychological reactions of test takers to adaptive tests is lacking. In particular, it has been suggested that test-taker engagement, and possibly test performance as a consequence, could benefit from the control that adaptive tests have on the number of test items examinees answer correctly. However, previous research on this issue found little support for this possibility. This study expands on previous research by examining this issue in the context of a mathematical ability assessment and by considering the possible effect of immediate feedback of response correctness on test engagement, test anxiety, time on task, and test performance. Middle school students completed a mathematics assessment under one of three test type conditions (fixed, adaptive, or easier adaptive) and either with or without immediate feedback about the correctness of responses. Results showed little evidence for test type effects. The easier adaptive test resulted in higher engagement and lower anxiety than either the adaptive or fixed-item tests; however, no significant differences in performance were found across test types, although performance was significantly higher across all test types when students received immediate feedback. In addition, these effects were not related to ability level, as measured by the state assessment achievement levels. The possibility that test experiences in adaptive tests may not in practice be significantly different than in fixed-item tests is raised and discussed to explain the results of this and previous studies.