PRESERVICE ECONOMICS TEACHERS PERCEPTION AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE USE OF COMPUTER-BASED TESTS FOR ASSESSMENT IN UNIVERSITY
Background to the Study
A systematic collection of information for use in judging the worth of a programme, product, procedure, or objective; or the potential utility of alternative approaches designed to attain specific objectives (Joshua, 2004). Evaluation of teaching and learning in the Nigerian educational system consisted, essentially, of tests and examinations often conducted by teachers or instructors, examining bodies or government departments. Evaluation of teaching and learning is an internal arrangement by which teachers in different institutions set and used their own examinations to assess the progress of their students (Owolabi, 2004).
According to Onuka (2006), there are two main types of evaluation namely: formative and summative evaluation. Formative evaluation is undertaken during the developmental stage of a programme or during the teaching and learning process. Obemeata (2005) also concluded that it is for the purpose of guiding and assisting a programme or learning to achieve its objective. Onasanya (2005) agrees that it guides and aids development and implementation of a programme. It also provides feedback on individual or group through testing.
Test consists of a set of uniform questions or tasks to which a student is to respond independently and the result of which can be treated in such a way as to provide a quantitative comparison of the performance in different students (Obinne, 2011). Test is a fundamental part of the teaching and learning process that is used not only as a basis for ranking students at the end of the teaching and learning process but also to guide teaching as well as aid the development of functional curriculum (Nkemakolam, 2003).
Test has been gaining an increasing awareness in almost all sector of the economy. Test is a very important aspect in the educational sector. Teachers, parents, counsellors and school administrators are all involved in the decision making processes which normally involve test. It is an instrument to make judgments and assessment of teaching and learning. It has been across cultures. It is also a screening instrument in every organization. Test is as important, in the education process as food, cloth and shelter is to life (Claussen&Aasland, 1993). In schools, test is used to measure what learners have learnt at the end of a unit. It is to promote students, to ensure they have met the required standards on their way towards certified for school completion, or to enter certain occupations, or as a method for selecting students for entry into tertiary institutions (Research, Innovation and Policy, 2008).
Test is an important aspect of education system. It covers all the processes in the education sector. It enables educators, lecturers, administrators, policy makers and the community to have an idea of what is missing and what is available (Osman, 2010). Test may be administered formally or informally (wikipedia). According to osman (2010), test can be conducted at the end of an instructional cycle, semester, term or unit. Such a test is for the purpose of determining the degree to which objectives (formal or informal) have been achieved, be the instructional or programme objectives. Nitko and Brookhart (2007) conclude that students view test as a way of informing them of their progress. A test also identifies the learning areas that need improvement. Students who get feedback through test regularly are better motivated to learn as they feel more involved in their own learning. Therefore, feedback from test guides improvement of student learning as well as contributes to student motivation.
The two major ways of administering a test are: the Paper-based test and Computer based test which are often a matter of personal preference, personality, and familiarity with the testing method. Paper-based and computer- based tests have been a focus of research years back based on the technology available (Baumer, Roded and Gafni, 2009).
Computer-based test (CBT) has gained popularity since 1999, as a means of testing, with large-scale professional examinations such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). CBT has been used in Nigeria for post University Matriculation Examination and internal exams in Nigerian Universities like the University of Ilorin, the Federal University of Technology, Akure and the Federal University of Technology, Minna ( Erle CH, Benjamin,Einar& Raymond, 2006).
Computer-Based Test has been established to be a useful assessment tool for under- and postgraduate assessments, as well as for the assessment of physicians competence (Erle et.al.2006). Chalmers (2011) sees Computer-Based test as a test that can be used in a supervised or non-supervised environment. it allows students to check their own progress through self-assessment. It can also be used for testing lower-order skills (such as knowledge, understanding and application). With consideration, however it can also be used for testing higher-order skills so as to improve students' analysis, synthesis and evaluation skills. Computer-based tests have the ability to automate a very time consuming task, marking and monitoring progress.
Some key reasons for using computer-based test are to increase the frequency of assessment; motivating students to learn and encouraging skills practice, to broaden the range of knowledge assessed; to increase feedback to students and lecturers; and, to extend the range of assessment methods. Increase in objectivity, consistency and reduction in marking loads aid administrative efficiency (Özden, Ertürk, and Sanli, 2004).
Computer-based test is increasing its usage for reasons like entrance exams in education, military training exams, certification exams by professional groups and promotional exams in various stages of life. Lowry (2005) views a computer-based test as a way to increasingly provide a quick method of marking summative assessments for large groups of students.
Computer-based test came into Nigeria education system through ETC (electronic test company). The introduction of CBT enables educators and trainers to author, schedule and deliver tests and exams. Their centres’ are located at: University of Ilorin in Kwara State, Oba Akran Avenue Ikeja in Lagos, University of Lagos in Lagos, University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Federal University of Technology in Minna, University of Maidugiri in Borno, and University of Ibadan in Oyo State. Additional centres are currently under construction all over Nigeria with expectation to have up to 25,000 computers located in various centres throughout the country (Oladipo, 2009).The era of computer-based test came into existence because of the disadvantages of paper-based test. According to Leland (2012), paper-based test dates back to the development of the Army Alpha and Beta tests with the purpose of screening recruits for mental competence.
The face of examinations in Nigeria is gradually getting a new look due to the introduction of the computer based test (CBT) system. CBT system has been used by a number of Nigerian universities to conduct their POST UTME(Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) for prospective students. It all started with University of Ilorin and Covenant University some years ago. The system is expected to heal the ills been faced by the traditional paper-pencil system which have been long associated with inconsistency, fraud, poor delivery, malpractice, insecurity, improper scoring candidates and so on. Students are also privileged to access their results after examination. This has made the CBT system more efficient in Nigerian universities (Nigeria Portal, 2009).
Perception is a process by which organisms interpret and organize sensation to produce a meaningful experience of the world. Perception can be described as one’s ultimate experience of the world (Microsoft Encarta, 2009). Successful integration of technology into education has been requiring stakeholders to have appropriate perceptions about test mode (Koksal, and Yaman, 2009). Perception is basically to attach personal meanings to internal and environmental inputs received through the senses and neural impulses (Schunk, 2000). Personal meanings attached to any input are determinative factors in processing of this input. Perception has been influenced by many factors such as customs, habits, education and motivation (Thinkquest, 2007). Technological developments have many effects on various aspects of education. Successful integration of technology into higher institution is an important aspect of education which can enhance the development of a nation. The perception of the stakeholders has effect on integration of the technological equipment (Cope and Ward, 2002).
Research on attitudes has a very long tradition in the social sciences, and techniques relating to assessment are becoming more sophisticated (Benninghaus 1976: Krebs and Schmidt 1993). Much effort has been made to refine questionnaires, scales and data analysis. Besides simply getting to know attitude patterns and components of a population, there is a rather implicit goal which lies behind these efforts (Neuman and Robinson 2004). The wish to explain behaviour by attitudes has always been one of the major desiderata in empirical research. Solving this problem also addresses an issue of justification for social sciences: if behaviour is influenced by attitudes, various ways to influence behaviour are open to academicians, sociologists, professionals in human and behavioural sciences.
Getting to know general attitude patterns towards the internet via a representative sample, one can obtain knowledge beyond demographic characteristics about factors which might hinder people from getting on-line. The measurement of attitudes is a considerably more difficult problem than measuring the influence of demographics on people’s internet and computer usage behaviour. Adjzen (1993) defined attitude as follows “Attitude is an individual’s disposition to react with a certain degree of favorableness or un-favorableness to an object, behavior, person, institution, and event or to any discriminable aspect of the individual’s world.” This definition points to a key element of attitudes: an evaluative dimension. Using scale to evaluate attitudes is common way to obtain information about respondent’s evaluations.
Furthermore, attitudes are multidimensional in the sense that they include three components: a cognitive and emotional and a behavioral component. The cognitive component includes perceptions and knowledge of the attitude object, typically represented via stereotypes. The emotional or affective component represents feelings towards the attitude object and the behavioral or cognitive component addresses questions of reacting towards the attitude object. Through accepting this definition of attitudes, one employs a multidimensional model of attitudes which can serve as a useful heuristic to structure analysis and data measurement.As is often the case with heuristics, in practice we find exceptions; for example the question whether attitudes are really best represented by a tripartite model or whether it would be preferable to construct a bipolar model (consisting of a cognitive and an affective component only). This question becomes even more important as the cognitive component is the most difficult to measure, when thinking about one-dimensional and precise operationalization. Adjzen (1993) suggests using behavioural intentions as an indicator for the cognitive component.
In measuring hypothetical behavioural intentions, the problem becomes even more abstract and difficult for respondents and there is wide discussion whether there should be reliance on non-committal one moment measurements. According to commonly accepted knowledge on attitudes Shelley, Peplau, and Taylor (1994) expect attitudes towards internet and computer to be cognitively complex and evaluative simple. Especially when people do not know exactly what the internet is all about, they may have some basic feelings (good/bad) about it without many supporting cognitions. Although there should be some kind of coherence between the three attitude components, we also know that the relationship between them can be rather complex. Attitudes can influence behaviour, but we also infer our attitudes from our behaviour.
The interaction with a computer in the studies has enhanced the motivation of the students and this could have compensated for their performance. Based on this background, this study will therefore examine the perception and attitude of pre-service Economics teachers’ towards the use of CBT for assessment in University of Ilorin.
Statement of the Problem
The new technologies like computer do not replace traditional processes of test but they do extend the possibilities of good test mode, communication and perception (Wang, 2002; Wood, 2004). The use of computer for test has created a chance for the comparison between paper-based and computer-based tests (Franklin & Peat, 2002). McFadden, Marsh, and Price (2001) conclude that computer can be a distraction from the test-taking process. Survey conducted by Karadeneiz (2009) shows that students did not prefer paper-based test due to the delay in the general feedback of such test. Since 2011, Computer-based test has been put into use in the Belgian Department of defence, to erase the use of paper- based tests which initially was used.
Parshall, Spray, Kalohn, and Davey (2002) observe that the disadvantages of computer-based test lead many studies to suggest systematic studies to check equivalence and comparability of paper-based test and computer-based test. Alderson, (2000) posit that students need some degree of computer literacy in order to avoid the mode effect on computer-based test. Johnson and Green (2004) assert that the usages of the potentials of computer-based test need to match the levels of validity and reliability of the paper-based test. Comparability of paper-based test and computer- based test by K-12 researches generally reveal that paper and computer version of multiple choice tests are comparable across grades and academic subjects (Paek 2005, Wang Jiao, Young, Brooks &Oslon, 2008).
Majority of assessment taking place in schools is pen-and-paper based (Cowan & Morrison, 2001). Most of the researches carried out on paper-based test and computer-based test are majorly on the comparability of paper-based test and computer- based; students’ perception of paper-based test and computer-based test; evolution of computer based test lab (Moskal, Caldwell, and Ellis, 2009,Harmes, 1999). Demirci (2006) opines that University Students' Perceptions of Web-based vs. Paper-based Homework in a General Physics Course reveal that there was no statistically significant difference in the means for web-based individual homework and grouped paper- based homework system with respect to physics-1 grade point average scores.
Olubiyi(2010) carried out a research on perception of learners on electronic examinations in open and distance learning institutions: a case study of national Open University of Nigeria, he gathers that the difference in students’ perception lies in reduction of examination malpractice, wide coverage of the scheme of work, students’ academic performance, age factor to the use of IT, and inadequate facilities. Hence, gender differences in paper-based and computer-based test perception are inconclusive.
Purpose of the Study
The general purpose of this study was to determine the pre service Economics teachers’ perception and attitudes towards the use of computer-based test for assessment in University of Ilorin. In this study, the researcher specifically investigated:
1. Pre service Economics teachers’ perceived usefulness of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin.
2. Pre service Economics teachers’ perceived ease of use of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin.
3. Pre service Economics teachers’ attitude towards the use of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin.
In this study, the following research questions were answered.
1. How do pre service Economics teachers’ perceived the usefulness of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin?
2. How do pre service Economics teachers’ perceived the ease of use of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin?
3. What is the attitude of Pre service Economics teachers’ towards the use of Computer Based Tests in University of Ilorin?
Scope of the Study
This research study was limited to university of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. The pre service Economics teachers’ of the institute of Education of the University from contact II-V were selected for the study purposively. Random sampling technique was used to select One Hundred and Ten (110) students randomly across all the contact session. A researcher designed questionnaire was used to get the perception of the students. Percentage was used for the demographic table and Mean was used to answer the research questions 1 to 3 raised.
Clarification of Major Terms and Variables
This following terms and variables are hereby clarified as used in this study.
Pre service Economics Teachers: These are the Economics education sandwich students from contact II to V that have been exposed to CBT
Test: an evaluation mode that is done in Nigerian universities to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills for decision making. It is done either by the use of computer based or paper based.
Computer-Based Test: is a method of conducting test through computer in which the students’ response are electronically marked and recorded
Paper-Based Test: is a method of assessing students in with the use of paper and pencil which could be multiple choice or essay questions.
Perception: This is the process of receiving, collecting actions, views, and opinions and belief of computer-based test and paper-based test in Nigerian universities.
Significance of the Study
This study would be significant in several ways for the improvement in the forms of test, test facilities and test administration in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The outcome of this study would be of great benefit to students, policy makers, organizations, curriculum planners, instructional software developers, test developers, examination bodies, lecturers, institutional administrators, government and professional organization.
The study may serve as eye-openers to students on the advantages of computer-based test and paper-based test in some of their courses. It would also help students to understand their lecturers and the school administration stand on the use of computer-based and paper-based tests.
The study would also help Nigerian Universities in finding out the constraint in the use of computer-based and paper-based tests for students. This study would as well provide Nigerian Universities with an insight into the perception of students on the use of both computer-based and paper-based tests. The outcome of the study may also serve as a useful guide to Nigerian Universities intending to adopt computer-based test.
Furthermore the findings of this study would assist test developers on the forms of test to use in assessing learners so as to be able to measure the skills and knowledge the test is set to measure. It would also avail the test developers the opportunity of finding out the advantages of computer-based and paper-based tests. It might also assist them in improving on different ways of conducting tests.
In addition, lecturers of Nigerian Universities may find this study useful to them by understanding their students’ perception of their mode of administering tests. This study might as well enlighten lecturers on the uses of computer-based test and paper-based test.
Examination bodies like the West African Examination Council, the National Examination Council and the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board may find the result of this study useful to them during their policy formulation and implementation with regards to test. The result of this study may prompt examination bodies in Nigeria to use computer-based test. Examinations and professional bodies will also benefit from this study by improving on their means of testing for mastery and certification of student demonstration of their competence and knowledge they have acquired. The findings of this study will serve as a feedback medium for information technology service providers, software developers in order to improve on their service provision based on the content of their software.
It would similarly help educational policy makers to recommend through the Nigerian University Commission the use of computer-based test and paper-based test for examinations in Nigerian universities. It could encourage government funding and as well make it a rule for university establishment. The outcome of this study could also be beneficial to various professional bodies and trade unions such as Evaluation bodies in Nigeria, Nigeria University Commission (NUC), among others.
This study may also help university administrators to make provisions for the necessary and needed facilities like computers, universal power saver (ups), and internet facilities in examination centers. This study would also help the universities to train and develop stakeholders involved in examinations in universities regularly in ICT skills. This study will also add to the existing body of knowledge about computer-based test and paper-based test in higher education in Nigeria..