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Sample Problem-Solving in Technology-Rich Environments items

Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments – Sample Item 1

This is an example of an item created for the PIACC domain of Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments. In this item, respondents must access and evaluate information in the context of a simulated job search. As shown in the item directions, located on the left side of the screen, respondents must find one or more sites that do not require users to register or pay a fee.

This item is a Level 4 item on a five-level scale with Level 1 being the easiest items and Level 5 being the hardest.

Figure 1: Opening screen of job search task

Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments – Sample Item 1, continued

The response mode in this item is reflective of real-life actions within the environment - in this case, respondents are asked to bookmark their selection. In addition to scoring this item based on the selection of the two correct sites, the process data and path tracking that are possible in this computer-based item also contribute to the response data. For example, one of the websites, as shown in Figure 2, meets the specified criteria, but the relevant information about fees and registration is not on the opening page. If a respondent bookmarks this site as a correct answer without clicking on the “Learn More” link to view the relevant information (shown in Figure 3) we might interpret that response differently than we would if that page had been viewed. This breadth of information, combined with frameworks that specify behaviors of interest, allow us to learn more about what adults know and can do relative to the problem-solving construct as it is being measured in PIAAC.

Figure 2: Website where relevant information regarding fees and registration is not on opening screen

Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments – Sample Item 1, continued

Figure 3: Second page of same website – relevant information is located in the directions for the form which indicate that users must sign up (register) and pay a fee

Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments – Sample Item 2

In this second item, respondents need to select a set of files to download onto a portable music player. As shown in Figure 4, the item requires respondents to select files meeting specified criteria in terms of genre (jazz and rock) and file size (maximum of 20 MB).

The software includes an automatic summing functionality (“Total Size Selected”) that facilitates the task by updating the total file size as files are selected or de-selected.    Respondents must monitor progress as they select files, checking against the provided criteria to know when they have satisfied the constraints presented in the problem. 

This item is a Level 2 item on a five-level scale with Level 1 being the easiest items and Level 5 being the hardest.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education