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UGA educational psychology professor takes on Singapore

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Athens, Ga. – George Engelhard, a professor in the University of Georgia College of Education's Department of Educational Psychology, recently conducted a five-day workshop in Singapore, titled "Measurement, evaluation, and assessment: The role of assessment in improving educational processes."The overall goal of the visit was to network with colleagues in Singapore to discuss improvements to the country's educational assessment system.

In addition to presenting various lectures on psychometrics and the appropriate use of assessments, Engelhard discussed a variety of issues related to educational measurement with the Singaporean Ministry of Education. In particular, he focused on the application of Rasch models to solve practical measurement problems, which include test construction, rater- mediated assessments and standard setting.

According to Engelhard, there are several significant differences in the educational systems in Singapore and the United States. For example, the majority of teachers in Singapore are trained at only one university. Additionally, students in Singapore typically score at the top of international comparisons in mathematics and other content areas.

The country's national assessment system also reflects the legacy of British educational systems. These include O-level and A-level examination systems that determine promotion and placement decisions.

While the Singaporean educational system is guided by a set of affective variables that are related to the development of teachers, the U.S. tends to focus primarily on content-related goals in education, such as the Common Core standards in mathematics and English.

During the workshop, Engelhard described in detail how the principles of invariant measurement might be used to solve a variety of educational measurement problems. Other topics that were discussed include different theories of measurement (classical test theory, item response theory, generalizability theory and Rasch measurement theory); measurement of affective values; and the three foundational areas (validity, reliability and fairness) in educational assessments.

"Assessments play a key role in educational processes in both the U.S. and Singapore," said Engelhard. "If used properly, tests can play an important role in providing formative and summative evaluations that improve student learning."

Because the problems related to educational assessment are similar in all educational systems, Engelhard was able to look at how these problems emerge within the context of a different national educational system. Although each country has its own unique approach to educational achievement, issues in educational measurement are generalized across countries, he said.

"Overall, my experience [in Singapore] was very positive with the creation of important dialogues with new colleagues," he said. "I look forward to hearing about how my colleagues in the Ministry of Education use my suggestions and recommendations to improve education in Singapore."

This was Engelhard's third trip to Singapore. He previously presented two lectures at the National University of Singapore and is anticipating another consultation with the Singaporean minister of education.

Engelhard has been invited to give a keynote address and conduct a workshop on invariant measurement and rater-mediated assessments at a conference in Fukuoka, Japan, in August. This work will continue his commitment to the improvement of educational assessments around the world based on the principles of invariant measurement using Rasch measurement theory.

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