Although the research base related to learning in the technological realm is relatively thin, insights into how people think about technological issues should be taken into account.

Assessments of technological literacy should reflect appropriate content standards. This criterion is especially relevant for assessments of student populations. Assessments of attitudes toward technology in out-of-school adult populations should also be designed with an eye to the important elements of knowledge and capability related to technology suggested by established standards.

Assessments for technological literacy should encourage higher order thinking (Box 3-4). An assessment provides an opportunity for students and teachers, as well as members of the general public, to demonstrate their knowledge of facts, display their conceptual understanding, and show their ability to apply that understanding to solving problems and making informed decisions.

Assessments that include items referring to specific technologies should be periodically reviewed to ensure that those references are current. Because technology is constantly changing, it is important that assessments not include out-of-date references (e.g., to long-playing records, typewriters, rotary-dial phones) that are not recognizable by the target population.

Assessments should avoid gender, race, or cultural bias, and, when appropriate, they should take into account the special needs of people with disabilities.

BOX 3-4

Characteristics of Higher-Order Thinking

Higher order thinking

  • is nonalgorithmic, with the path of action not fully specified in advance

  • tends to be complex, with the total path not “visible” from any single mental vantage point

  • yields multiple solutions, each with costs and benefits, rather than a unique solution

  • involves nuanced judgment and interpretation

  • involves the application of multiple criteria, which sometimes conflict with one another

  • often involves uncertainty because everything that bears on the task at hand may not be known

  • involves self-regulation of the thinking process

  • involves imposing meaning, or finding structure, in apparent disorder

  • is effortful, requiring considerable mental work to make elaborations and judgments

SOURCE: Adapted from Resnick, 1987.

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