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Assessment of Complex Cognition: Commentary on the Design and Validation of Assessments

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journal contribution
posted on 05.11.2015, 00:00 by JW Pellegrino, M. Wilson
THE SEVEN articles in this special issue are concerned with the challenges of assessing complex aspects of cognition in the domains of mathematics, reading, history, and science. Each describes the design of assessments and their interpretive use, with a particular focus on assessments closely tied to classroom instruction. Individually and collectively, they make valuable contributions, highlighting many conceptual and practical considerations that need to be addressed in designing and validating assessments of key aspects of mathematical, literary, scientific, and historical reasoning. Our discussion is divided into three parts. Part 1 presents three conceptual frames regarding the nature of assessment and assessment design, providing an interpretive language for discussing the seven articles. Part 2 applies these frames to the articles as a way to interpret the specifics of each case. Part 3 highlights challenges that remain in operationalizing and validating assessments of complex cognition.


The preparation of this commentary was supported, in part, by Project READI, a multidisciplinary, multiinstitution collaboration aimed at research and development to improve complex comprehension of multiple forms of text in literature, history, and science. The first author’s thinking on matters of assessment of historical, scientific and literary reasoning have benefitted from discussions with his READI colleagues. Project READI is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, through Grant R305F100007 to University of Illinois at Chicago


Publisher Statement

This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in Pellegrino, J. W. and Wilson, M. Assessment of Complex Cognition: Commentary on the Design and Validation of Assessments. Theory into Practice. 2015. 54(3): 263-273. DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2015.1044377.


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)



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