Publications & Resources

On the Roles of Task Model Variables in Assessment Design

Jan 1999

Robert J. Mislevy, Linda S. Steinberg, and Russell G. Almond

Tasks are the most visible element in an educational assessment. Their purpose, however, is to provide evidence about targets of inference that cannot be directly seen at all: what examinees know and can do, more broadly conceived than can be observed in the context of any particular set of tasks. This paper concerns issues in assessment design that must be addressed for assessment tasks to serve this purpose effectively and efficiently. The first part of the paper describes a conceptual framework for assessment design, which includes models for tasks. Corresponding models appear for other aspects of an assessment, in the form of a student model, evidence models, an assembly model, a simulator/presentation model, and an interface/environment model. Coherent design requires that these models be coordinated to serve the assessment’s purpose. The second part of the paper focuses attention on the task model. It discusses the several roles that task model variables play to achieve the needed coordination in the design phase of an assessment, and to structure task creation and inference in the operational phase.

Mislevy, R. J., Steinberg, L. S., & Almond, R. G. (1999). On the roles of task model variables in assessment design (CSE Report 500). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).