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Construction and analysis of educational tests using abductive machine learning


Computers & Education Volume 51, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Recent advances in educational technologies and the wide-spread use of computers in schools have fueled innovations in test construction and analysis. As the measurement accuracy of a test depends on the quality of the items it includes, item selection procedures play a central role in this process. Mathematical programming and the item response theory (IRT) are often used in automating this task. However, when the item bank is very large, the number of item combinations increases exponentially and item selection becomes more tedious. To alleviate the computational complexity, researchers have previously applied heuristic search and machine learning approaches, including neural networks, to solve similar problems. This paper proposes a novel approach that uses abductive network modeling to automatically identify the most-informative subset of test items that can be used to effectively assess the examinees without seriously degrading accuracy. Abductive machine learning automatically selects only effective model inputs and builds an optimal network model of polynomial functional nodes that minimizes a predicted squared error criterion. Using a training dataset of 1500 cases (examinees) and 45 test items, the proposed approach automatically selected only 12 items which classified an evaluation population of 500 cases with 91% accuracy. Performance is examined for various levels of model complexity and compared with that of statistical IRT-based techniques. Results indicate that the proposed approach significantly reduces the number of test items required while maintaining acceptable test quality.


El-Alfy, E.S.M. & Abdel-Aal, R.E. (2008). Construction and analysis of educational tests using abductive machine learning. Computers & Education, 51(1), 1-16. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved February 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 30, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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