Theme 8: Assessment, evaluation and examination

This thematic group unites quantitative and qualitative research that focuses on a broad range of aspects of monitoring educational and learning processes and outcomes. This monitoring can have a formative or summative purpose and pertains to either the individual level (students, teachers) or the extraindividual level (programs, tracks, systems). The research program is primarily organized into three research lines (assessment, examination, evaluation), but also includes research that aims at the integration of the different approaches to assessment and educational evaluation.

Research on Assessment focuses on the shift from a testing culture towards an assessment culture, in which assessment is primarily conceived of as contributing to learning and therefore is integrated with instruction. Theory-development and research concentrates on the role of both summative and formative (teacher-, peer-, and self-) assessment in interaction, developing, and learning (including processes of motivation, attribution, self-regulation). Specific aspects within this overall framework include the assessment of complex skills or competence domains, such as research and writing skills, problem-solving, reflection or career choice skills; the integration of assessment with competence-based education programs and parameters of authenticity; assessing in simulations, for instance for driving or flying skills; assessing prior learning (both informal and formal learning); the quality of assessment; assessment in the context of teacher education, and role of formative feedback.

Research on Examination focuses on high-stakes educational tests, such as the central examinations in secondary education, certification tests in vocational education and entrance examinations in higher education. Research topics are standard setting, linking and equating of assessments, test bias and differential item functioning, optimal test construction, and the use of innovative testing formats, such as computerized adaptive testing and testing in simulation environments. Special attention is given to the methodological and psychometric foundation of these applications. This research line is developed in close cooperation with CITO, the National Institute for Educational Measurement in the Netherlands. An important topic here is related to methodological and psychometric aspects of maintaining the standards of high-stakes tests over subsequent test administrations. A new research topics recently addressed pertain to validity and reliability aspects of integrating school-based assessments such as pupil monitoring systems in (central) summative tests.

Research on Evaluation focuses on the development and implementation of methods for educational evaluation at the extra-individual level. Important applications are large-scale national and international educational surveys (such as PPON, PISA, TIMSS), and quality assurance systems. Two research topics are eminent in this research line. First, research is done into the incorporation of measurement error of both dependent (educational outcomes) and independent variables (student, teacher and school variables) in structural models used in educational evaluation. Second, research is done into emerging methodologies for making causal inferences in educational surveys and observational studies as a better founded alternative for the dominance of the experimental paradigm in the discussion on evidence based practices.

The theme aims at establishing Liasons with parties active in the field of educational assessment, evaluation and examination to support collaboration with respect to (evidence-based) educational research and the educational program for the participating PhD students. Such parties are:
Institutions of higher education i.e., lecturers in higher education (o.a., lectoraten);
Cito (the National Institution for Educational Measurement) i.e., scientists working in research and development;
RCEC (Research Center for Examination and Certification);
NVE (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Examens), i.e., an association of professionals working in the field of Examination.

These cooperations should provide PhD students with additional learning and research opportunities in professional organisations.