Problem solving in technology-rich environments (PS-TRE) is an innovative addition to adult literacy and large-scale assessments. In PIAAC, PS-TRE is defined as:
“using digital technology, communication tools, and networks to acquire and evaluate information, communicate with others, and perform practical tasks.”
PS-TRE measures skills and abilities that are required for solving problems while operating in a technology rich environment. Specifically, it assesses the cognitive processes of problem solving--goal setting, planning, selecting, evaluating, organizing, and communicating results. The environment in which PS-TRE assesses these processes is meant to reflect the reality that digital technology has revolutionized access to information and communication capabilities over the past decades. In particular, the internet has immensely increased instantaneous access to large amounts of information and has expanded capabilities of instant voice, text, and graphics communication across the globe. In order to effectively operate in this environment, it is necessary to have (a) knowledge of how the environment is structured (e.g., an understanding of the basics of the environment, including how to use command names, drop-down menus, naming protocols for files and folders, and links in a web page), and (b) the ability to interact effectively with digital information. Such interaction involves understanding electronic texts, images, graphics and numerical data, as well as locating, evaluating, and critically judging the validity, accuracy, and appropriateness of the accessed information. These skills constitute the core aspects of the PIAAC PS-TRE assessment.
PS-TRE items present tasks of varying difficulty to be performed in simulated software applications using commands and functions commonly found in the technology environments of email, web pages, and spreadsheets. These tasks range from purchasing particular goods or services online and finding interactive health information to managing personal information and business finances.
PIAAC recognizes the diversity of digital technologies and the fact that they are evolving at a rapid pace, but due to implementation constraints the first round of PIAAC will be limited to using computers and computer networks. The PS-TRE assessment will only be computer-administered. More…