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May 19 2019 - 08:00 PM

"Imbellus is reinventing how we measure human potential." (Imbellus)

Rethinking Assessment

Standardized educational assessments have a remarkable power: they prescribe what is taught in schools, determine what skills are valued in higher education, shape the meaning of student success, and impact what skills people bring to the workforce. The problem is, existing standardized assessments have little predictive power for academic and professional success. In fact, 60% of employers say that new graduates are not adequately prepared for the working world. Imbellus is dedicated to harnessing the power of digital and artificial technology to create an entirely new kind of assessment that tests how students think instead of what they know. They are convinced that it is more important for colleges and employers to understand students’ decision-making processes than whether they manage to fill in the correct bubbles. However, measuring thinking is hard to do. Imbellus’s challenge is to create an assessment that breaks down abstract concepts like problem-solving into observable pieces that allow educators to adequately and in an unbiased way infer students’ cognitive abilities.

Testing Through Immersive Simulation

In order to achieve their goal, Imbellus creates immersive digital simulations that test abilities such as problem-solving. All their tests are situated in environments of the natural world such as the ocean or the desert. The creators chose these contexts because they are universally familiar, but not the usual environments in which students practice problem-solving. This allows the assessments to adequately measure transfer skills without bias. As students move through the assessment, their progress is tracked, but not timed. This is meant to help reduce testing anxiety and allow testers to evaluate how students regulate their time on different tasks. The platform captures every click and hover of the mouse, allowing educators to accurately infer what students prioritize. Imbellus uses supervised AI to manage relationships between changing variables in testing scenarios and to account for differences in complexity and difficulty distributions among various versions of the same test.

Currently, Imbellus is testing their assessments through partnerships with various companies. These tests enable further research, development, and data collection that can help validate and improve this new kind of assessment. They hope that their products will usher in a new way of testing students: one that will value how they think more than the output they achieve. The Imbellus team is convinced that the ability to accurately capture human potential will help educators better prepare students for the future working world.

Image: by Pixabay via Pexels
Posted in: New Learning TimesNL Sector|By: Rebecca Sullivan|263 Reads