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The Genetics Lab: Acceptance and psychometric characteristics of a computer-based microworld assessing complex problem solving

Author(s): Philipp Sonnleitner | Martin Brunner | Samuel Greiff | Joachim Funke | Ulrich Keller | Romain Martin | Cyril Hazotte | Hélène Mayer | Thibaud Latour

Journal: Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling
ISSN 2190-0493

Volume: 54;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 54;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: microworlds | complex problem solving | acceptance | computer-based testing | educational assessment

Computer-based problem solving scenarios or “microworlds” are contemporary assessment instruments frequently used to assess students’ complex problem solving behavior – a key aspect of today’s educational curricula and assessment frameworks. Surprisingly, almost nothing is known about their (1) acceptance or (2) psychometric characteristics in student populations. This article introduces the Genetics Lab (GL), a newly developed microworld, and addresses this lack of empirical data in two studies. Findings from Study 1, with a sample of 61 ninth graders, show that acceptance of the GL was high and that the internal consistencies of the scores obtained were satisfactory. In addition, meaningful intercorrelations between the scores supported the instrument’s construct validity. Study 2 drew on data from 79 ninth graders in differing school types. Large to medium correlations with figural and numerical reasoning scores provided evidence for the instrument’s construct validity. In terms of external validity, substantial correlations were found between academic performance and scores on the GL, most of which were higher than those observed between academic performance and the reasoning scales administered. In sum, this research closes an important empirical gap by (1) proving acceptance of the GL and (2) demonstrating satisfactory psychometric properties of its scores in student populations.
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