Terms Relating to Creating Assessments


Item is a QTI term, but was already used widely in the industry before it was adopted as a QTI standard. What is called an item in TAO is, however, often also referred to as a question in traditional assessments. In fact, an item in TAO is a complete test 'unit', and consists of at least a question (or prompt) with a response interaction. It may not contain a question at all, and if it does, it is only a part of the item. In this sense, it is the general language use of the word 'question' which is confusing, as it can a) refer to something which is not a question, and b) contain more than just a question.

The TAO Glossary defines an Item as "The smallest exchangeable object in an assessment. An Item is more than a ‘Question’ in that it also contains the contextual instructions, the processing to be applied to the Test-taker’s response(s), and any Feedback (including hints and solutions)".

A simple item might include a short prompt and a single (response) interaction, but items can also include a stimulus – i.e. some information in the form of supporting material, such as a recording or a text passage, and may also contain several interactions as part of the same question, or include follow-up questions.

Note: For the sake of programming convenience, the prompt is included in the interaction in TAO, as an interaction cannot be used without a prompt, or vice versa.

To come back to George's assessment, he needs ten items in his test, and each item needs to contain a prompt asking for the capital of a particular country and a choice interaction giving several options for the students to choose from, as well as supporting material in the form of the images of the corresponding continent.

Below, you can see that a new item has been created called ‘Capitals: Myanmar’. In the image, this item is still empty: George now needs to insert the relevant components to complete the item.

An empty item


The term interaction is one that causes a great deal of confusion, and it is to this term that we will turn next.