The impact of mobile technology on Online Assessment

In this article, Dr Preuss, co-founder and Product Director of the cut-e Group, talks about how cut-e ensures value for clients by looking at how best to use Online Assessments in their process; forms of validity which are most relevant and the importance of understanding the context and client aims.

The cut-e assessment strategy

 Over the years, cut-e has been at the leading edge of applying the very best parts of technology that development affords, with the testing principles that are paramount to robust assessment.

The answer has many parts.

  • Develop a robust assessment test that accurately and reliably measures what is needed.
  • Make it fun and enjoyable – a positive experience – for the applicants.
  • Construct the tests in a way that they are fair to all participants, whether this relates to disabilities, education, culture, age or gender.
  • Present this to applicants in a way that they want to complete it, but still supports their ability to perform optimally – and this means online via a tablet.
  • Adapt the test to reflect how the candidate is performing on the test so the best information is gleaned in the shortest amount of time.
  • Support the employer branding through the use of tailored colours and logo, and the smooth integration with their own processes so that successful candidates are highlighted and managed through the recruitment process as speedily as possible.”

Taking action: adapting assessment strategy to mobile technology

Testing in the future also needs to maximise the combination of technology with psychometrics. Adaptive testing is not new but because of the speed of technology, is now more easily applied to selection tests. In such tests, the question items presented are based on the previous response patterns of a candidate. This means that a more able candidate who is getting answers right leaps forward to answer more difficult items in the test rather than going through all the different stages of difficulty and then, item difficulty adjusted down when they have reached their ‘level.’

Dr Preuss comments on this, ”Adaptive testing is a sophisticated and valuable approach to assessment. Getting more relevant information from a test taker – in less time – by adapting to the test taker’s responses optimises testing time, i.e. shortens the duration. Future developments will take even more differentiating information from a test taker by analysing the entire response process in all facets on the fly.

Our development team have been monitoring and trialling mobile technologies to determine how we can best use it with assessment. We believe we are one of the few testing providers doing this.

This research now means we are able – and are in the process of – adapting existing cut-e instruments to mobile use and developing new instruments for specific client needs.”

How mobile should mobile testing be?

Technology will continue to progress rapidly and it’s clear there are the opportunities to harness the capabilities. The fundamental question is how do we deploy these?

Dr Preuss explains, “We’re often asked if candidates can complete our tests on their smart- phones. Technologically we are well able to meet this challenge. But we need to consider the context of the test. We differentiate between ‘low-stake’ and ‘high-stake’ situations. Low-stake, e.g. gamification gimmicks, often used in candidate attraction, can well be completed on smartphones, in the tram or pub. But where a test is high stake, we need to ensure fairness, equal opportunities and similar conditions for applicants – so we never intended high-concentration, time-critical tests such as numerical reasoning to be completed on the move, on a smartphone on the train or somewhere where candidates are unlikely to perform at their best.”

“For these reasons we have decided that only those instruments which are not time-sensitive such as our personality questionnaire shapes, views, squares, Situational Judgement Questionnaires or 360 questionnaires will become smartphone-friendly. Our time-critical ability or skills tests are being adapted for use on tablets. These mobile devices are still portable but more likely to be used in a stationary, single position conducive to concentration and focus on completing a test. There are clearly challenges in preparing tests for mobile usage, but we strongly believe that these can be overcome – and are embracing the challenge.”

Reference cut-e

July 16, 2015