The fastest growing testing trends for 2023 encompass the test taker experience, increasing interest in certification, and how artificial intelligence can play a role in test development. In addition, as the testing industry continues to evolve following the pandemic organizations are reevaluating their strategies for remote testing.
All these trends contribute to the perpetual balancing act – the need for robust test security and a desire to deliver the most convenient and accessible experience for all test takers.
The whole test taker experience
We are seeing an increased propensity for testing organizations to look at the test taker experience as a whole, rather than focusing on isolated elements. And we are working with a growing number of clients to map and scrutinize their test taker journey at every stage, with the aim of uncovering improvements or enhancements that will make the testing experience as easy and accessible as possible, for all test takers.
Test taker journey mapping includes every piece of information, every click, and every scroll they take on their way to receiving a test result. We undertook journey mapping exercises with clients including ISACA and the UK Home Office last year. Working together, we detailed every action a test taker might take during the testing experience. A diagram was used to visualize the journey, and workshops examined every stage in detail. We are currently progressing through the resulting action log and expect to see improvements across the test taker experience, alongside increased efficiencies and smoother processes.
We have seen positive outcomes across many clients from this trend of examining the test taker experience through a broad lens. We expect to work with more clients on test taker journey mapping in the year to come, as this continues to be a critical consideration globally across all delivery modalities.
Balancing test taker needs and wants
Testing organizations are also taking a pragmatic approach and carefully considering what it is their test takers need – versus what it is they might want. During COVID, we saw a large-scale shift to remote testing. This was necessary but not without its concerns, particularly about test security.
Now we are seeing organizations re-evaluating their test delivery strategies, particularly in North America where there is ample test center coverage. Some organizations are scaling-up in-person testing, and even more are adopting a multi-modal approach that provides convenience for test takers in more remote locations.
We are supporting clients to make these important decisions based on the needs of their testing program and their market. As well as providing testing organizations with the data forensics and web crawling services they need to help inform their decisions.
Beyond testing – growing test taker populations
Taking a broader view doesn’t stop with the test taker experience. More and more testing organizations are paying attention to the overall health of their profession and the educational pathways of their test takers. One element of this is a greater focus on test preparation materials and supporting the learner. And even further, we are working with clients on campaigns that promote and recruit individuals to their profession.
An important example is nursing, which has seen both a reduction in graduating nurses and an increase in nurses planning to leave the profession. By 2025, McKinsey estimates the United States may have a 10-20% gap of nurses available for direct patient care.
We recently worked with our client, the American Board of Nursing Certification (ABNC) and the National Certification Corporation (NCC) on a ‘Certified Nurses Make a Difference’ campaign. Public service announcements in specific areas of the United States generated awareness and helped promote the work and value nurses play in patient healthcare. The campaign was aired over 6,000 times with more than 7.5 million impressions in 2022.
In a similar example, the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) teamed up with membership and education associations to promote the profession of respiratory therapists. Through videos, case studies, and social media, the NBRC are sharing the stories of therapists and patients, elevating the profession and helping to address the shortage in respiratory therapists.
I have had more conversations with testing organizations in the past year than I have in the rest of my career about ways we can work together to raise the profile of their profession. With workforce shortages continuing across multiple industries, this trend is likely to continue.
Artificial Intelligence in test development
My colleague Isabelle Gonthier covered the topic of emerging technologies in test development in her first blog of this series on testing trends for 2023. Including advances in the use of Automatic Item Generation (AIG), which is already in use.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), and constituent technologies of AI such as machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), are also exciting developments when it comes to test development. While still in their early stages, these technologies are becoming more mainstream with real potential in the test development lifecycle to:
- Reduce the load on volunteer Subject Matter Experts.
- Process complex data sets used in test administration.
- Uncover and learn more about our test takers.
We have seen that AI can be problematic in test delivery, but I believe there is greater potential for AI in other areas of the assessment lifecycle that has yet to be unleashed.
I am excited about exploring these emerging technologies in 2023 while continuing to partner with clients using tried and tested tools that focus on the fundamentals of testing – test integrity and security, and the test taker experience.