Why multimedia might matter: The impact of animations and images on item performance and test-taker behaviour
Paula Lehane, Darina Scully, Michael O'Leary
Early View
Institute of Education
School of Theology, Philosophy and Music

The use of animations and images in technology-based assessments has been a significant recent change in assessment design. To ensure that appropriate inferences can be drawn from assessments that use multimedia, we must investigate their impact on test-taker performance and behaviour. In this DCU research collaboration, an experiment was conducted with 251 Irish post-primary students using an animated and text-image version of the same TBA of scientific literacy. 

Eye movement and interview data were also collected as a measure of test-taker attentional behaviour. Overall, there was no significant difference in test-taker performance when identical items used animated or text-image stimuli. However, items with dynamic stimuli often had higher discrimination indices indicating that these items were better at distinguishing between those with differing levels of knowledge. Eye movement data also revealed that dynamic item stimuli encouraged longer average fixation durations on the response area of an item. These findings indicate that multimedia stimuli may potentially affect how test-takers interact with online assessments. This has implications for what claims can be made about a learner's performance on an assessment.