Background and goals

Given the rapid development of modern information and communication technology in our society, the skill demands in education and workplaces have recently shifted toward non-routine, dynamic, and complex skills. Taking an educational perspective on this shift, there is an increasing need for valid and innovative assessments that are able to capture the complexity of these key skills. The project addresses this need by developing and validating an innovative, computer-based assessment of students’ ability to creatively adjust their thinking, behavior, and drive to changes and novelty (i.e., adaptability) in complex problem solving (CPS) situations. Building on existing assessments of CPS, this new assessment requires students to react on dynamic changes and novel information that determine the problem situation. The resulting log-file data provide unique opportunities to study students’ behavior with respect to adaptability. Besides looking at the cognitive and behavioral components of adaptability, the project will evaluate indicators of an affective dimension to provide a differentiated perspective on this key construct.

The study will be conducted in grade levels 8 to 10 (N=1,450), a developmental phase in which students need to deal with a number of novel and dynamic situations; the data will be analyzed using advanced latent variable modeling. To further understand the nature of adaptability as a construct that may assist students in academic and non-academic contexts and to examine the validity of the new assessment, the relations to cognate constructs such as fluid intelligence and working memory capacity, motivational constructs such as openness and self-concept, and to educational criteria such as school achievement are investigated.

The project will generate new knowledge about adaptability in CPS situations as a key skill in 21st century education, and will advance national competences in developing innovative, computer-based assessments.

Primary research objectives

The project’s primary research objectives are to develop and validate an innovative computer-based assessment of students’ ability to deal with novelty and changes in complex problem solving situations (i.e., adaptability). Following this objective, the project clarifies


a) the relation between adaptability and performance in complex problem solving

b) how students evaluate the credibility and relevance of novel information and changes

c) how adaptability relates to cognitive, motivational, and belief-oriented constructs

d) how adaptability predicts educational outcomes such as school achievement

e) the relation between adaptability and students’ background (e.g., socioeconomic status)

Thus, the study will generate new knowledge about the nature and role of students’ adaptability.

Secondary research objectives

The secondary research objective is to disseminate both the knowledge gained from the project and the computer-based assessment to the research community, test developers, policy-makers, and teachers.

Published July 4, 2016 10:33 AM - Last modified June 19, 2017 1:11 PM