Look at the greater picture!
That is the advice from Skills Norway (Kompetanse Norge in Norwegian), one of several potential employers for master’s candidates in Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation. We have had a chat with the leader of the Department of Research and Development at Skills Norway, Magnus Fodstad Larsen.
Photo: Skills Norway
Development and quality assurance
What could a candidate with a master’s degree in Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation work with at Skills Norway?
A candidate with this degree could for example work on developing and assuring the quality of the tests and certifications Skills Norway are responsible for. These include the Norwegian language tests for adult immigrants, the test in Social studies, the Citizenship test and various diagnostic tools.
The candidate could work on managing and analyzing pilot data and real test data, Fodstad Larsen says.
Such analyses are used to determine which test questions work well and which ones do not, setting cut scores on tests, and many other purposes. Many of these tasks and analyses would form part of internal reports and external articles, so writing is also a part of the work.
Increased focus on assessment, measurement and evaluation in the education sector
Why is assessment, measurement and evaluation important to Skills Norway?
Skills Norway needs to have an overview and knowledge about which of the skills policy initiatives work well, and which ones do not. In the education sector, there has in recent years been an increasing interest in how assessment, measurement and evaluation methods can be used to gather knowledge about the impact of political actions and initiatives. This tendency has influenced the way we work to a large degree.
Skills Norway is responsible for several official test and certifications, including Norwegian tests for adult immigrants and the citizenship test. Part of this responsibility involves developing the tests further and assuring the quality of the tests in order to be certain that they are accurate and fair.
We have to be sure that the tests measure what they are supposed to measure, and that they are not biased against certain groups of test takers. The tests and test results are therefore measured and evaluated continuously.
Research method skills are important
What sorts of skills do you need at Skills Norway?
We need people with good research method skills. Employees also have to be proficient at using quantitative analysis tools, and they have to be able to work with large amount of data and manage the data efficiently.
Fodstad Larsen also points out the importance of presentation skills:
It is not always easy to conduct measurements and evaluations within the education sector, so we need people who are able to operationalize research methods and connect them to a specific field of study. For example, you have to be able to work and cooperate with test developers and leaders whose concerns and academic backgrounds may be different from your own. Therefore, presentation skills are crucial.
Do you have any advice for students who are about to choose a master’s program and who are interested in working in this field?
Students should acquire thorough theoretical knowledge and research method skills. It is also important that they become proficient at using tools, such as for example the R software.
Finally, Fodstad Larsen points out that it is important to look at the larger picture in order to understand the context:
Students also have to see that their work forms part of a bigger picture, and that they have to be prepared to cooperate well with people from different academic backgrounds. The analyses we carry out are always connected to a field of expertise, so it is important to understand the system and context you are working within.