In order to keep-up with technological advances we have witnessed that a number of major international test-publishers are considering to discontinue or stop investing in paper and pencil based assessments. A number of organisations are replacing these traditional methods with online supervised assessments as an alternative. In many instances, these assessment are used to assess large volumes of semi-skilled or skilled entry-level candidates such as applicants for learnership or apprenticeship programmes.
However, more often than not, these assessments are often the first introduction to online computer-based tests for entry-level test takers in developing countries such as South Africa and therefore special consideration needs to be given to ensure that there is equitable treatment of examinees during the testing process.
Here are some considerations when assessing entry level test-takers:
- Candidates need to be orientated to what an assessment is. This works toward ensuring that the assessment is not misinterpreted as an exam, thus reducing anxiety levels.
- Providing good upfront communication such as informing candidates what to expect during testing assists candidates to feel better prepared for the assessment.
- Orientating candidates on the test equipment such as the computer and the mouse and how these items work ensures that candidates are not disadvantaged because of being unfamiliar with the equipment.
- Running a brief (5 to 10 min) computer exercise prior to starting the assessment allows candidates to familiarise themselves with the equipment and the nature of online assessments.
- Creating a formal but relaxed and unthreatening testing environment enables candidates to feel more secure during testing.
- Seating arrangements should not induce anxiety, c-shaped settings have been proven to be more conducive to testing when compared with the classroom arrangement
- Facilitators should have a good understanding of the assessments being administered and why these are being done. This enables facilitators to adequately answer any questions that candidates pose.
- Behavioural aspects of facilitators should additionally have a disposition which does not induce anxiety in candidates. Being overly formal and taking on invigilator-like pacing may cause anxiety comparable to that experienced during an exam.
- Providing a technology based support service in the case that candidates experience technical problems like loss of connectivity will go toward ensuring that the test-takers’ experience is managed efficiently.
- Informing candidates that assessments are scored by means of computer-based mechanisms, goes a long way in alleviating concerns regarding being scored subjectively.