Nov 202017
test-taking engagement

Test-taking behavior is influenced by both the to-be assessed competency and individual test-taking engagement. Test-taking behavior is used to draw inferences about competency (response data) and can also be used to judge test-taking engagement (response time data). The expectancy of solving an item successfully and the personal value of taking the test are considered antecedents of test-taking engagement.

Conditioning factors of test‑taking engagement in PIAAC: an exploratory IRT modelling approach considering person and item characteristics


A potential problem of low-stakes large-scale assessments such as the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is low test-taking engagement. The present study pursued two goals in order to better understand conditioning factors of test-taking disengagement: First, a model-based
approach was used to investigate whether item indicators of disengagement consti-tute a continuous latent person variable by domain. Second, the effects of person and item characteristics were jointly tested using explanatory item response models.

Analyses were based on the Canadian sample of Round 1 of the PIAAC, with N= 26,683 participants completing test items in the domains of literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. Binary item disengagement indicators were created by means of item response time thresholds.

The results showed that disengagement indicators define a latent dimension by domain. Disengagement increased with lower educational attainment, lower
cognitive skills, and when the test language was not the participant’s native language. Gender did not exert any effect on disengagement, while age had a positive effect for problem solving only. An item’s location in the second of two assessment modules was positively related to disengagement, as was item difficulty. The latter effect was negatively moderated by cognitive skill, suggesting that poor test-takers are especially likely to disengage with more difficult items.

The negative effect of cognitive skill, the positive effect of item difficulty, and their negative interaction effect support the assumption that disengagement is
the outcome of individual expectations about success (informed disengagement).

Full Article:
Goldhammer, F., Martens, T. & Luedtke, O. (2017). Conditioning factors of test-taking engagement in PIAAC: an exploratory IRT modelling approach considering person and item characteristics. Large-scale Assessments in Education, 5, 18. DOI: 10.1186/s40536-017-0051-9 [html, pdf]

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