TitleDeveloping a CAT: An Integrated Perspective
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsThompson, N
Conference NameIACAT 2017 Conference
Date Published08/2017
PublisherNiigata Seiryo University
Conference LocationNiigata, Japan
KeywordsCAT Development, integrated approach

Most resources on computerized adaptive testing (CAT) tend to focus on psychometric aspects such as mathematical formulae for item selection or ability estimation. However, development of a CAT assessment requires a holistic view of project management, financials, content development, product launch and branding, and more. This presentation will develop such a holistic view, which serves several purposes, including providing a framework for validity, estimating costs and ROI, and making better decisions regarding the psychometric aspects.

Thompson and Weiss (2011) presented a 5-step model for developing computerized adaptive tests (CATs). This model will be presented and discussed as the core of this holistic framework, then applied to real-life examples. While most CAT research focuses on developing new quantitative algorithms, this presentation is instead intended to help researchers evaluate and select algorithms that are most appropriate for their needs. It is therefore ideal for practitioners that are familiar with the basics of item response theory and CAT, and wish to explore how they might apply these methodologies to improve their assessments.

Steps include:

1. Feasibility, applicability, and planning studies

2. Develop item bank content or utilize existing bank

3. Pretest and calibrate item bank

4. Determine specifications for final CAT

5. Publish live CAT.

So, for example, Step 1 will contain simulation studies which estimate item bank requirements, which then can be used to determine costs of content development, which in turn can be integrated into an estimated project cost timeline. Such information is vital in determining if the CAT should even be developed in the first place.


Thompson, N. A., & Weiss, D. J. (2011). A Framework for the Development of Computerized Adaptive Tests. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 16(1). Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=16&n=1.

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