19 minutes | Sep 4th 2019

Using Data to Design Tests People Don’t Hate

David Saben is on a mission to make taking tests less painful, and he’s using data to do it. In this episode, he’ll discuss reviving methods developed in 1979 to shorten tests and make them more effective, as well as how to use psychometrics to aid in the design and crafting of an effective test.David Saben: When I see my son who's 11 years old, spending three days and testing when I know there's absolutely no reason for it that you can do that in an hour. Ginette Methot: I'm GinetteCurtis Seare: And I'm CurtisGinette: And you are listening to Data CrunchCurtis: A podcast about how applied data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing the world.The father of lean startup methodology once said “There are no facts inside the building so get the heck outside.”The education industry is no different. Sometimes the facts that’ll make your machine learning career are waiting just outside your office. Read more at mode.com/mledum o d e dot com slash M L e d uGinette: Today we chat with David Saben, the CEO and president of Assessment Systems, an organization innovating psychometrics (the science of assessment)Dave: I originally started my career in telecommunications, uh, bringing voice and data services into institutions and to learning institutions. And then when I realized is, is that connecting universities and for profit schools, you know, connecting them online really created a huge opportunity for learning and really crossing barriers to learn and really meeting learners on their terms with online learning courses. And that kind of brought me through this, this journey with using technology to, to really make better decisions in learning and knowledge and how we do that effectively. And that has started a about a 16 year career focused on that using using data, using e tools to make a better learning environment for everybody and make us more effective in the way that we, we gather information and retain information. And that that's left. Let brought me, um, into several areas. One is in the learning sciences is how do you, how do you deliver learning content more effectively, but also in the assessment side as well, where, how do you measure what folks are learning effectively and painlessly in that that's brought me on this, uh, this journey into the assessment industry and really making sure that every exam that's delivered in classrooms or whether it's a licensure exam is as fast and as fair as possible and using data to be able to do that. So really mitigating the risk of human bias when it comes to measuring a human's abilities, uh, which is, uh, which is a troublesome area, right?Curtis: Yeah. And now you say a effective and, and painless. And I know most people hate taking tests, so, so tell me how you approach that. Dave: Yeah. Well, I think there's a lot of ways. I mean, I think one of the, one of the most important ways is that you make the test faster, right? You make, you know, in 1979, I was the chairman of assessment systems help create a technology called computerized adaptive testing. What that uses, it uses algorithms to gauge what you know and what you don't know and then basically tailoring the content that you see, the next item you see gets more progressively difficult or progressively easier depending on your, your ability. And what that does is that reduces test time by about 50%. We see that with the ASVAB exam that's given to our service men and women to make their testing experience faster and fair and really, and we're starting to see that really across the world with measurements. So really making those exams tailored to the person's ability, uh, which is really, really important. You know, what you don't want to do is you don't want to give one test that doesn't change to everyone cause that's really, really inefficient. You know, if I'm going through the test and I know I know the content really well,
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