13. Computer-Based Testing is Just as Good as Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Testing

It comes to no one's surprise that online tests have become increasingly common over the past decade. In a school setting, testing has shifted from a paper-and-pencil format to being online because technology is accessible for students and allows the grader to quickly review. Online Computer-Based Testing (CBT) reduces administrative costs and makes the testing process easier than ever before. For this reason, many large-scale tests, including the Graduate Records Examination (GRE), are taken online. In some cases, the traditional paper-and-pencil version of these tests is not even offered anymore. Consequently, it is important to research any potential changes during the shift from paper-and-pencil testing to CBT.

Opponents of Computer-Based Testing Argue that Online Tests are Not an Adequate Replacement of Traditional Paper-and-Pencil Assessments.

Pointing to a collection of studies that favor paper text over online text, opponents of CBT say that the paper-and-pencil format is thereby the most accurate form of testing. It is true that multiple studies suggest that printed text is the most effective for reading comprehension, speed, and memory retention. With that being said, there is a difference between gaining new knowledge through reading and applying existing knowledge through testing. Extensive research on testing formats has not been conducted. Since the focus of tests is on applying existing knowledge rather than gaining knowledge, reading comprehension, speed, and memory retention do not matter as much as they do when learning. Therefore, it is arguable that there is no substantial difference between CBT and traditional paper-and-pencil testing.

Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (IUS) is a Test Used to Measure Intolerance of Uncertainty.

Intolerance of uncertainty is the way in which someone reacts to vague situations. The IUS is a well-established measure of someone's intolerance of uncertainty. It consists of 27 questions that measure how people feel about uncertainty. Many scientific studies have documented its efficacy. Another interesting finding is that the IUS shows a significant correlation with the incidence of mental illness. For example, if an individual scores highly on the IUS, they are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. A study that was conducted on Chinese college students shows that the higher they scored on the IUS, the more likely they were to develop these types of disorders. This suggests that there is a link between IUS scores and the likelihood for development of these mental disorders.

People who are Assessed on the Chinese-language IUS have a Significantly Higher Score Than Those Assessed on the English-language IUS.

When testing a large number of Chinese college students, it was found that they score higher on the IUS than English-speaking people. This score difference is large enough to be statistically significant, showing that the Chinese-language IUS yields higher scores than the English-language IUS. By examining the results of the test's individual questions, there was a similar trend between the two languages. In order to discuss the validity of CBT, it is important to understand the cause of this score difference. The large difference in scores can simply be due to a difference in cultures. As a whole, the Chinese people tend to take less risk than Europeans or Americans. To the Chinese, to be adventurous is to be irresponsible. It is true that everyone wants to have some sense of control over their future. However, this is especially true for the Chinese people. Therefore, the large difference in the scores is simply due to cultural differences and does not affect the accuracy of online testing.

Online Version of the Chinese IUS Shows Similar Results to the Paper-and-Pencil IUS.

When gauging the Chinese college students' intolerance to uncertainty, the online IUS gave slightly higher scores than the traditional paper-and-pencil version. However, there is no statistical difference between the results of the two testing formats. This shows that although computers are not as good as paper-and-pencil for learning, they can be used for testing purposes on the IUS.
 Many other studies indicate that IUS scores are higher when tests are conducted online. The reason may be that the online test contained self-disclosure, which could have increased the reporting of symptoms. Another reason is that some people may feel that the administration of the test makes them feel uncertain. Those that were surveyed were college students. College students have had enough paper-and-pencil tests to be comfortable in that situation. However, when given an online test, they may have been more uncomfortable or confused. The data suggests that even if this is the case, the difference is not large enough to be considered statistically significant. Therefore, computer-based testing is just as good as traditional paper-and-pencil testing.

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