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The Psychometrics Centre

Cambridge Judge Business School

The Psychometrics Centre used the occasion of the 17th International Conference of The Psychometrics Society in Hong Kong (July 2011) to launch Concerto, its new open-source online adaptive testing platform. Concerto brings high quality inexpensive adaptability to the world of online testing - for both research and business.

What is adaptive testing? An adaptive test is one that tailors item presentation to emerging evidence of the ability and character of the candidate on an item by item basis. On any test it is possible to estimate the likely outcome after only a few items have been administered, so why waste time and effort administering items that are clearly going to be too easy, or conversely too difficult, for the candidate? With paper and pencil, adaptability was never practical, but the computer changed everything. However, the world had to wait until these were fast enough to apply the necessary Item Response Theory algorithms that can choose next items in real time. Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT) systems have been able to do this since the 1990s, but the use of such systems has been limited to large IT companies, testing organisations and government agencies who have been very protective of their know-how and intellectual property. At the same time commercially available software for CAT development has been expensive and there has been a consequent failure in the transfer of emerging know-how between agencies and, more importantly, into academia.

Today, psychometric testing is migrating from stand-alone computers and in-company servers onto the internet, with a truly massive expansion in its fields of application, particularly on social networks. For example, the  myPersonality facebook app has over 6 million users. The same demands for adaptivity exist for these systems, but development has been severely handicapped by a severe shortage of suitably skilled psychometricians. 

To address this need, The Psychometrics Centre has developed Concerto, an open-source, web based, adaptive testing platform for creating and running rich, dynamic tests. It combines the flexibility of HTML presentation with the computing power of the R language. Concerto is free for commercial and academic use. Click here for more details and how to download Concerto. We believe that by bringing online adaptive testing within the budget of the average psychometrics student, the development of these instruments will see the emergence of a critical mass of expertise within the world's leading universities and the most innovative web businesses.

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