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Five Tips for Writing Your Own Technology-Enhanced Items

by Sally Valenzuela on Jun 24, 2020

Tags
  • Assessment
  • technology
Sally Valenzuela

In this age of digital devices, using technology to enhance everyday tasks is commonplace. 

Using technology-enhanced items (TEIs) for assessment is an engaging addition to traditional classroom tests. Many state summative assessments include these items and research has shown their effectiveness in measuring student learning. Many assessment-delivery platforms allow teachers to write their own items and create their own assessments to specifically assess how their students are responding to classroom instruction. 

Writing your own items is one way to gather evidence from students about their knowledge and skills. This evidence can support inferences you make about student learning to help with decisions about the next unit of instruction, placement in learning groups, needs for remediation, and other classroom choices. For writing TEIs, there are some special considerations. Here are five tips to writing your own TEIs:

1. What standard or skill do you want to measure? Items need to be carefully targeted to the knowledge they are intended to measure. TEIs can be used to target standards that are hard to measure with multiple-choice items, such as standards that call for more complex thinking skills. 

2. What evidence should the response provide about student understanding? For example, if you are trying to see if students can compare two ideas, an item that asks students to simply identify an idea won't provide evidence of their ability to compare. Asking students to select a mathematical expression won't tell you if they could write that expression themselves. 

3. What item type best elicits the evidence you identified in Step 2? In some cases, a simple multiple-choice item may suffice. (Test developers call these selected-response items since students select their response from a list.) If you need deeper evidence, such as the examples above, you will need a constructed-response item, where students create their own response. Here's where TEIs are the best choice; students use built-in technology to construct their answers which can then be automatically scored.

4. Which specific type of TEI will provide the evidence you need? This may take some careful thinking and perhaps a few trials. Hot-text items can be used to give evidence of reading comprehension and equation-response items can be used to measure math skills, but other item types may also be available for your use. 

5. What are the correct responses? Templates for creating TEIs include the identification of the correct responses. For ELA items, this is usually straightforward, but for math items you may need to think carefully to identify what responses are acceptable. Be sure to think about the full range of responses your students may provide, not just the one you had in mind when you wrote the question. Your students may surprise you with answers that are not what you expected but still correct.

Once you have created your technology-enhanced item, there are other questions to ask yourself. Does the item target an appropriate achievement level; that is, will everyone respond correctly, or only the top students? Is the item free from unintended bias that might disadvantage some students? Does the reading level match that of your test takers? Will students with disabilities be able to understand and respond to the question? And most important of all, is the question engaging to students?

Learn more about authoring ClearSight technology-enhanced items here.


Valenzuela has over 30 years’ experience in K–12 education including 17 years with a focus on large-scale assessment, K–12 summative and interim assessments, and professional licensure and certification programs. She has worked in product management and assessment development, with specific interests in defining development procedures for technology-enhanced item types and designing and implementing tagging procedures to support accessibility tagging.

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