Industry Focus: Test Preparation
Test scores are an important part of students’ education as they depict which learning materials the student has mastered and which still need to be worked on. New technologies have changed every part of education, test preparation included. Besides providing students with the possibility to master the learning material, the use of test preparation programs also enables the opening of new and interesting job positions. If you are wondering which new opportunities are available, please read on.
As in traditional classroom learner assessments, digital learner assessments work to evaluate competence level. Adaptive programming, games and other digital technologies provide new digital means of assessing learner skill level in a way that is integrated with the learning process. Research has shown that the most effective way to value a learner’s competency level is by measuring not only comprehension of the material but also decision-making ability with the content, which is easier to accomplish with the digital methods than with a quiz-type assessment (“The Serious eLearning Manifesto” (2014) by Allen, Dirksen, Quinn, Thalheimer).
The Research Institute of America found that eLearning increases retention rates 25% to 60% while retention rates of face-to-face training are very low in comparison: 8% to 10%. This is because with eLearning, students have more control over the learning process as well as the opportunity to revisit the training as needed. As a part of eLearning, the new test preparation technologies provide students with easier and more effective ways to assess their knowledge prior to the final testing.
What Are The Benefits of Technology-Based Test Preparation
With the adoption of new test preparation software and edugames, many beneficial traits of test preparation have come to light. In order to provide an insight into how test preparation software contributes to learners, here is an example of one such program that focuses on long-term knowledge retention.
Knowledge Factor has developed a unique adaptive learning solution called Amplifire. It is based on a series of neuroscience-based learning techniques that are proven to systematically trigger engagement, learning and long-term knowledge retention through the creation of a new memory. Therefore, Amplifier serves as a good test preparation tool. Some of the key triggers at the core of Amplifire include:
- Priming: All of the content is delivered through a question and answer format that creates a mental framework for the content to be learned.
- Confidence and emotion: When giving an answer, learners are asked to provide a self-assessment of their level of confidence in their answer choice. This has been proven to activate areas of the brain responsible for memory formation, which helps in content retention.
- Feedback and spacing: The tool provides high-level feedback on the learner’s answer choices right away, but does not give a full explanation and/or additional context until some time has passed. This serves to heighten curiosity and promotes long-term retention.
- Dopamine: The software is based on the concept of desirable difficulty – repetitive patterns of struggle and success that optimize learner dopamine levels and engagement.
- Visual cues: While cues are helpful in learning, they can hinder long-term recall when the cue is no longer there. The Amplifire software removes the visual cue once a question is answered correctly and dynamically retests the learner’s understanding.
- Working memory: The software assesses each learner’s working memory capacity (how much new material a learner can store in short-term memory) and adjusts the amount of material he/she interacts with in each learning module accordingly to maintain a balance of challenge and progress.
Amplifire delivers strong results relative to traditional classroom learning, with learners reportedly achieving over 95% mastery levels of content and 80% retention levels in 50-75% less time.
Assessment and Evaluation Edugames
Until recently, game-based learning was perceived to be very time-consuming and expensive to develop. This has changed dramatically in just the last two years. Game-based learning and test preparation programs are gaining acceptance and creating the breakthrough moment for the development of game-based learning by companies.
Assessment edugames evaluate the user on knowledge and skills in a particular domain. These are quite common in test preparation for standardized exams and even in recruitment and employee performance evaluations. The knowledge transfer is usually a score that defines the level of ability and players have the chance to learn about themselves and their learning skills.
Zero Hour Threat is an interactive action game designed by a division of Disney to increase learners’s ACT and SAT standardized test scores while boosting their general mathematics and vocabulary skills. With each correct answer, the learner moves one step closer to decoding a virus that international criminals have set in place to infect the United States’ banking systems. It provides learners with a chance to raise their SAT and ACT scores while having fun playing their SAT and ACT test preparation video game.
India-based Edsix Brain Lab serves the PreK-12 segment and aims to strengthen cognitive skills for critical thinking, learning agility, increased attention span, and more. They have a suite of over 500 games that they call Skill Angels, that assess the cognitive abilities of students.
SimCityEDU, developed by GlassLab, Electronic Arts, and Maxis, includes a set of formative assessment tools which gauges the ability of the students to discover and understand the tools they’re given, allowing GlassLab to analyze their problem-solving capabilities. Every action the player takes in-game is tracked and used to assess how well that student is applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
GlassLab published a free whitepaper called “Psychometric Considerations in Game-Based Assessment” in early 2014. They explained: “Game-based assessments can provide a rich understanding of the different factors that affect educational achievement and predict how a student’s performance might change over time.”
Along with previously mentioned companies, Mindsnacks, McGraw-Hill, Scholastic, Kaplan, and the Princeton Review all develop test prep edugames.
If you want to be a part of technology improved education institutions and work on test preparation for future generations, you will need corresponding background knowledge. A number of European universities offer study courses that provide students with a proper base for careers in this field of business.
The following list will give you insight into some bachelor and master programs that offer such study programs:
- Swansea University (United Kingdom): Education and Computing
- Université catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium: Bachelor in Psychology and Education: General
- University of Porto, Portugal: Educational Sciences
- University of Bath (United Kingdom): Education with Psychology
- University of Cambridge, UK: Educational Leadership and School Improvement
- The University of Edinburgh, UK: Digital Education
- Universidad de Sevilla (Spain): Software Engineering and Technology
- Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway): Learning – Brain, Behavior, Environment
Job Opportunities Related to Test Preparation
Considering that this is a very narrow field of education, job opportunities are very specific. Some required qualities include knowledge in psychology, good teaching skills, expertise in computing and so on. Of course, it all depends on which particular job are you interested in. If you are wondering which job opportunities are offered when it comes to test preparation, the following examples may provide answers to your questions:
Apart from spreading knowledge, one teaching duty is test preparation. Besides making sure that learners are ready for the upcoming test, it is advisable that teachers have good psychology skills so that they know how to estimate which type of test preparation is suitable for which students. The teacher should also be familiar with tcurrent test preparation programs so that he or she can implement them into the curriculum.
This job position includes developing, enhancing, debugging, supporting, maintaining, and testing software applications used for test preparation. Attention to detail and knowledge about test preparation essentials are vital. To apply for this job, you need to be familiar with the education system and technology.
In order to conduct the test preparation programs and apps, software engineers need to develop the software. If you love to learn new technologies and are not afraid of the challenge, but you also want to contribute to education and help learners, this might be the job for you. When it comes to qualifications, Bachelors degree in Computer Science or Engineering is desirable, or having the equivalent experience.
Test preparation is the key to achieving good test results. It is no surprise that test preparation made its progress with the introduction of technology in education. In fact, it was expected after the implementation of the new learning models and technology-supported classrooms.
The importance of test preparation also lies in the fact that it can point out to students which are their strong and weak points so that they can work on those and improve their learning skills.
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