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How does usability improve computer-based knowledge assessment?

Educational assessment measures and evaluates student`s knowledge, skills and competencies. The ever increasing, world-wide use of information echnology rendered the competency to use information technologies as an important educational goal in itw own right and, therefore, emphasizes the importance of the application of computers for educational assessment.

However, in stark contrast to the voluminous literature on advantages of computer-based assessment (e.g. improved security, access to interactive ite formats, immediate scoring), there is a dearth of empirical studies examining if a computer-based assessment actually improves the measurement of the target construct. Here, the interaction with the computer plays a central role. Indeed, usability (i.e. ease of use or the "extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction in a  specified context of use" (EN ISO 9241-11, 1998))is a rarely explored research objective in the perspective of assessments^ psychometric properties.

This research topic is of highest interest because educational policies rely on the results of large-scale assessments like PISA and PIAAC that are using more and more the advances of computer-based assessment. Specifically, this project will scrutinize the question whether increased usability improves computer-based assessment. To this end, usability-centred methodologies will be applied to a computer-based assessment of knowledge. An innovative item format (i.e. "concept maps" - apowerful assessment approach that has led to new opportunities to study the process of learning and creation of new knowledge) will be used as an example to demonstrate how such methodologies perform. Data of the present PhD project will be obtained from the realization of usability tests and large-scale cross-sectional studies (N=200).

The results of this current PhD may have significant implications for further computer-based assessments in Luxembourg and ensure successful educational regulations.