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Beyond Proficiency

Using Log Files to Understand Respondent Behaviour in the Survey of Adult Skills

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Computer-based administration of large-scale assessments makes it possible to collect a rich set of information on test takers, through analysis of the log files recording interactions between the computer interface and the server. This report examines timing and engagement indicators from the Survey of Adult Skills, a product of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), both of which indicate large differences across countries and socio-demographic groups, in the amount of time spent by respondents and their levels of disengagement, which reduce the probability of giving a correct answer and consequently reduces measured performance. Such insights can help policy makers, researchers and educators to better understand respondents’ cognitive strategies and the underlying causes of low and high performance. This, in turn, can help improve the design of assessments and lead to more effective training and learning programmes.

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Allocation of time to different items in the Survey of Adult Skills

This chapter analyses disaggregated data at the respondent-item level to illustrate how respondents chose to allocate time to different items. Time spent on items was found to be strongly related to intrinsic characteristics of items, such as difficulty. Respondents devoted considerably less time to items administered in the second half of the assessment. This was accompanied by a decrease in performance (measured by the fraction of items answered correctly) and an increase in the proportion of missing answers. Respondents seem to allocate time to tasks rationally, spending less time on items that are both too difficult and too easy and more time on challenging items for which the probability of success is close to 50%. Spending more time on an item appears to increase the probability of giving a correct answer, although at declining rates.

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