A simple model to determine the efficient duration of exams
Number of pages
SourceEducational and Psychological Measurement, 81, 3, (2021), pp. 549-568
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI BO
Educational and Psychological Measurement
SubjectBehavioural Science Institute
This study develops a theoretical model for the costs of an exam as a function of its duration. Two kind of costs are distinguished: (1) the costs of measurement errors and (2) the costs of the measurement. Both costs are expressed in time of the student. Based on a classical test theory model, enriched with assumptions on the context, the costs of the exam can be expressed as a function of various parameters, including the duration of the exam. It is shown that these costs can be minimized in time. Applied in a real example with reliability .80, the outcome is that the optimal exam time would be much shorter and would have reliability .675. The consequences of the model are investigated and discussed. One of the consequences is that optimal exam duration depends on the study load of the course, all other things being equal. It is argued that it is worthwhile to investigate empirically how much time students spend on preparing for resits. Six variants of the model are distinguished, which differ in their weights of the errors and in the way grades affect how much time students study for the resit.
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