using Method B; a student who gets most of the first kind wrong but most of the second kind right is probably using Method A.

This example could be extended in many ways with regard to both the nature of the observations and the nature of the student model. With the present student model, one might explore additional sources of evidence about strategy use, such as monitoring response times, tracing solution steps, or simply asking the students to describe their solutions. Each such extension involves trade-offs in terms of cost and the value of the evidence, and each could be sensible in some applications but not others. An important extension of the student model would be to allow for strategy switching (Kyllonen, Lohman, and Snow, 1984). Although the students in Tatsuoka’s application were not yet operating at this level, adults often decide whether to use Method A or Method B for a given item only after gauging which strategy would be easier to apply. The variables in the more complex student model needed to account for this behavior would express the tendencies of a student to employ different strategies under different conditions. Students would then be mixed cases in and of themselves, with “always use Method A” and “always use Method B” as extremes. Situations involving such mixes pose notoriously difficult statistical problems, and carrying out inference in the context of this more ambitious student model would certainly require the richer information mentioned above.

Some intelligent tutoring systems of the type described in Chapter 3 make use of Bayes nets, explicitly in the case of VanLehn’s OLEA tutor (Martin and VanLehn, 1993, 1995) and implicitly in the case of John Anderson’s LISP and algebra tutors (Corbett and Anderson, 1992). These applications highlight again the interplay among cognitive theory, statistical modeling, and assessment purpose. Another example of this type, the HYDRIVE intelligent tutoring system for aircraft hydraulics, is provided in Annex 4–1 at the end of this chapter.

Potential Future Role of Bayes Nets in Assessment

Two implications are clear from this brief overview of the use of Bayes nets in educational assessment. First, this approach provides a framework for tackling one of the most challenging issues now faced: how to reason about complex student competencies from complex data when the standard models from educational measurement are not sufficient. It does so in a way that incorporates the accumulated wisdom residing within existing models and practices while providing a principled basis for its extension. One can expect further developments in this area in the coming years as computational methods improve, examples on which to build accumulate, and efforts to apply different kinds of models to different kinds of assessments succeed and fail.

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