Resource Banks

QTII envisions becoming a central repository for nationwide, perhaps even global course objectives and test item bank resources.


COURSE OBJECTIVES. In the more than 3500 colleges and universities in the United States, there are courses common to just about all.  Courses such as Freshman English, History of Western Civilization, Music Appreciation, Freshman Chemistry or Biology, many courses with the same content are taught at virtually all these schools.

Despite the fact that thousands of courses in thousands of schools all teach the same content, each one is planned independently. Sometimes a department will provide an instructor with a list of topics to cover, but more often, the instructor is provided with a pre-selected textbook and told "Cover this."

Another issue is that many of these basic courses are taught by relatively new instructors, since those teachers with seniority usually elect to teach the more advanced ("interesting") courses. So we wind up with our most fundamental courses, the ones taught to the most students, being taught by our most inexperienced instructors.

QTII envisions sponsoring a "Consortium of Course Objectives" for each subject area common to a number of  institutions. The goal of the consortium would be to agree on a set of common learning objectives for the core courses in that subject area.  The learning objectives for Freshman English taught in Miami should not be substantively different than Freshman English taught in Oregon or Hawaii.

QTII's long term vision is that eventually there will be established and accepted learning objectives for every study area.

When this comes to pass, then institutions accepting students transferring from another institution will know exactly what competencies are indicated by each course on the student's transcript.

Equally as important, potential employers will have a crystal clear picture of what competencies each graduate has attained, and these competencies will be more evenly matched from institution to institution.

Of course, each institution would probably want to retain some specialized, non-common courses, to retain institutional individuality. There's nothing wrong with that.

QTII would create and maintain a website accessible to consortium-participating institutions, where the common learning objectives for all courses could be stored and accessed.

TEST ITEM BANKS: Once common objectives are settled for a particular course, QTII can begin to serve as the central repository for effective test questions based on these objectives.

It takes significant training and a great deal of time to write effective and valid test questions; why should well written questions be discarded after a test?

One answer to that question is to prevent cheating. But consider this -- once QTII compiles a substantial test item bank, it doesn't matter if the students know the questions in advance! Why? Because the questions are based on the objectives, and if the students study the questions, they will be studying the objectives, and thereby learning what they're supposed to learn anyway. If there is a large enough number of questions, then studying all the questions will be more work (and more learning) than simply studying the proper material. 

ENVISION THIS: You are a third year teacher, and you have just been notified that next month, due to sudden illness of the regular teacher, you will teach (for the first time) three sections of a freshman ABC-XYZ class, each section with 70 students. You are fairly comfortable with the subject, but haven't worked with it for three years. You log on to the QTII Objectives Bank website and download the standard ABC-XYZ objectives hierarchy and three sample lesson plan layouts. The objectives tell both you and your students exactly what topics and subtopics they are to learn, and to what level. You select a sample lesson plan, one that closely matches the number of class sessions you have. The lesson plan outlines exactly which topics to cover in each class session, and offers a number of teaching examples that have worked well in the past. With the lesson plan, the objectives, and the examples, teaching the actual lessons -- including staying on topic and making it interesting for the students -- is a piece of cake. You have decided to give four exams during the term.  The afternoon before the first exam, you log onto the QTII Test Item Bank. The system already has a list of the objectives for your course. You specify which objectives have been covered to date, and the QTII Test Item Engine generates one test item for each behavioral/criterion objective covered. This comes to a total of 75 test items. You preview the test items on screen, including items, rationales, and statistics for each test item, and select four you don't like. The engine generates four new items (from hundreds available) for these objectives. You say the new items are acceptable, so the Test Item Engine generates two test documents in Microsoft WordŽ format: the test itself, suitable for printing on the department's high speed laser printer, and the answer key, complete with a rationale explaining why the right answer is correct and the distractors are wrong. The entire process of creating the test takes less than half an hour. The test is assured to be valid and reliable. The students fill out their answers to the test on ScantronŽ forms; at the end of the day you feed all forms into a ScantronŽ machine, which feeds the responses back to the QTII Testing Engine and scores the tests. The QTII Testing Engine uses the student responses to update its statistics for those test items, making them even more usable in the future. Finally, the QTII Testing Engine generates another electronic document listing each student by name or ID number (your choice) and the score received on the test.  The entire scanning, scoring, and printing operation requires less than half an hour for more than 200 tests.

Does this sound fanciful? For now, yes. In the future, no. QTII has the vision, the means, and the determination to make this reality.  

Please email us to see how you can help bring this about.


        QTII -- Establishing, Teaching, and Certifying Standards for Effective Teaching