Reading for the new ERA: Assessing reading in a digital environment

Reading for the new ERA: Assessing reading in a digital environment

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Reading for the new ERA: Assessing reading in a digital environment

In 2009 the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) includes an Electronic Reading Assessment (ERA) as an international option, in which 22 of the 67 main survey countries are participating. The inclusion of ERA in PISA 2009 reflects the fact that the reading of electronic (digital) texts is becoming increasingly necessary and prevalent: the skills and knowledge required for digital reading are essential for full, creative and reflective participation in the 21st century.The ERA conceptualisation took as its starting point the assumption that it was to be an assessment of reading in a digital environment, rather than a computer-delivered assessment of reading in the print medium. Creating an assessment of electronic reading poses the challenge of providing an authentic measurement that represents what is essential to reading in any medium as well as what is different and unique about this medium. The paper will describe the construct of reading in the electronic medium that was developed for the ERA, in which text processing (common to print and electronic reading) and navigation (peculiar to electronic reading) are conceived of as crucial variables. The extent to which the interaction between these two variables explains item difficulty will be explored, using results from a predictive study of the difficulty of ERA field trial items conducted before data collection, together with the field trial results. The usefulness of this construct both in terms of guiding item development and in better understanding at a more general level the nature of reading in the digital medium will be discussed.

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