Types of Tests: Norm-Referenced vs. Criterion-Referenced

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  • 0:07 Measurement
  • 1:24 Norm-Referenced
  • 3:05 Criterion-Referenced
  • 5:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

What's the best way to score tests? In this lesson, we'll look at two major types of tests that are scored differently from each other: norm-referenced and criterion-referenced tests.

Measurement

Ricki is an educational psychologist. She wants to do a study examining whether or not a certain curriculum will help students learn math skills. In order to figure that out, she has to put together a math test that the students will take after they've been exposed to the curriculum.

Psychological measurement is the process of evaluating psychological traits, including cognitive skills, like math, and other traits, like depression or altruism.

Measurement is the cornerstone of psychological studies. Without measurement, there is no way to gather data in a study. Without data, there is no way to know if your hypothesis is correct. For example, Ricki might think that the curriculum will help students learn math, but unless she measures their math skills, she won't have the data to show whether it actually does help or not.

There are many tools used in psychological measurement. When looking at cognitive, or thinking, skills, tests are usually used to measure outcomes. IQ tests are examples of psychological tests that measure cognitive skills. So is Ricki's math test.

Let's look at two different ways of scoring tests: norm-referenced and criterion-referenced.

Norm-Referenced

Ricki wants to know if her curriculum will help students learn math skills, and she's written a math test for the students to take. But, how should she determine what passing means?

A norm-referenced test scores a test by comparing a person's performance to others who are similar. You can remember norm-referenced by thinking of the word 'normal.' The object of a norm-referenced test is to compare a person's performance to what is normal for other people like him or her.

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