More than 200 Students Needed for ETS/ICT Testing
By Linda J. Goff, Library Instruction

On January 11th, Fred Batt and I attended a Chancellor’s Office meeting at LAX where we got our assignments related to the new Educational Testing Service (ETS) Information and Communication Technology Literacy (ICT) large scale assessment project. We were told that Sacramento needed to recruit 203 students to take the test before the March 31st deadline. The CSU is one of the primary partners of ETS in developing and testing this new assessment measure that is specifically designed for the higher education environment as a comprehensive test of ICT proficiency. The CSU has committed to test 3,000 CSU students during February and March.

Some of you may remember that we did a small scale beta test of the ETS/ICT instrument on August 19, 2004, with a group of 28 students. The test itself is done entirely online. It presents various scenarios and asks students to solve information problems using a variety of technologies and critical thinking skills. With registration, profile, and debriefing questions the entire process takes 2 ½ hours.

ETS has a lot invested in this test and so they offered $25 from http://giftcertificates.com to every CSU student taking the test. The CSU is sweetening the deal by sending us four iPODs to give away. That works out to one iPOD for every 50 students; with such great odds, I figured that would be enough incentive to get lots of students to sign up.

We decided to try to recruit from a targeted audience of only juniors so we could compare native vs. transfer students. We hired some student assistants to make calls from a randomized list of juniors, but had very little positive response: out of 800 calls and emails, fewer than 40 students said yes. We changed plans and decided to do an open testing, using the web to sign up. Andy Osburn and TJ Gorton worked on a sign-up page http://library.csus.edu/survey and we reserved Mendocino Hall 2007 for 17 sessions. Testing began on Saturday, February 26th at 9:30 and all went well until the evening session, when the custodians locked up the building. (Note to self: Next time you reserve a room in another campus building, make sure to tell Facilities Management.) After calls that night to the campus police, Dean Terry Webb and Ron Richardson from Facilities Management, the Sunday sessions were safe. However, by the end of 17 original sessions, even though 200 students had signed up, only 109 students actually showed up and took the test. This was just over half of what we needed, so we expanded the testing window to mid-March. By March 18th, Reza Peigahi, TJ and I had proctored 27 sessions and tested 155 students. With 48 more to go, during Spring break we sweetened the deal for library Student Assistants by offering to let them take the test on library time.

Still hoping to make our goal of 203, we have added 5 more sessions next week, March 28th-30th. Students can still sign up at a link from the Library home page: http://library.csus.edu/survey.

There has been some media coverage – the March CSUS Bulletin had an article and Professor Barbara O’Connor and I were interviewed by KFBK Talk Radio about the project on March 15th. There will also be a feature article in the State Hornet on March 30, the last day of the testing.

The gift certificate process has been bumpy, but it looks like the kinks have finally been worked out. Any student who has taken the test and not received their certificate within 10 days should contact me so I can notify ETS of the problem.

The test itself is interesting and kind of fun to take, but the recruiting has been a frustrating and time-consuming process. I am hopeful that the data collected about the test and the skill level of our students will be worth all the effort and hours. By 2006, ETS plans to have a test that will truly measure individual students and will allow us to determine where our students are on the continuum of technology and information skills.