Terms Relating to Creating Assessments


Interaction is a QTI term. It’s one of the first terms you’ll encounter when you're authoring tests in TAO, and, as mentioned in the last lesson, at first glance it is a strange choice. This is because it’s not normally used by people working in the education industry.

The TAO Glossary gives the main definition of an Interaction as "the part of an Item which allows the candidate to interact with an assessment, selecting or constructing a response". The User Guide describes interactions as the 'building blocks for items'. Perhaps a helpful way to conceptualize the difference is to visualize a candidate sitting a traditional examination delivered on paper, and then think of the interaction as the pen the candidate is holding, which enables them to answer the exam question.

In other words, an interaction is the mechanism set up for test-takers to interact with TAO. This is where the name comes from – it refers to the situations where the test-taker has to interact with the system (in other words, where an action is required of the test-taker). These actions are mainly providing responses to test questions (e.g. by clicking on the answers of a multiple choice question). 

The name interaction is often used interchangeably with item, or test question. This is probably because it usually forms the main part of the item. Strictly speaking, though, these terms are not interchangeable. Interaction only refers to part of the item, and, other than conceptually, interactions cannot exist on their own (i.e. outside of an item).

Note: Although the term interaction is mainly used for question-based interactions, it also has a secondary use: as it refers to any interaction the test-taker has with TAO, this includes interactions such as pressing the play button in order to listen to a recording which has been included as supporting material, or simply clicking on the 'End Attempt' button to tell TAO that you, as a test-taker, want to leave that test item. This use of the term has little to do with education and learning, so it is helpful to be aware that the term is used to cover any interaction the test-taker might have with TAO.

In George's test items, the interaction in each one is the part, as defined above, that the students interact with. George has decided to use Choice interactions in his assessment. The image below shows the options given in the interaction (one of which the test-taker will click on) for the item asking for the capital of Myanmar.

Choice Interaction in George's item