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Performance Testing – A Lesson To Be Learned From Venetian Art

August 30, 2016

Blog 6 - Performance Testing picRecently, I took a vacation to Italy. Among many conversations with locals, I met a gentleman who hand-bound books, both printed and blank books for writing. He shared with me the history of this art in Venice – dating back to the 1400s when bookbinding studios became well known in the area. He also knew how to ‘marble’ paper, an art learned from the ancient Chinese, which made the paper look like it had a type of marble veining on it.

In speaking to this older man, I asked him how he learned his craft. He told me a familiar story in that region: he learned from his father and grandfather, who learned from their fathers and grandfathers before them. This tradition of families handing down their art and professions has a rich history, both within patrimonial and apprenticeship models of learning.

In England and several other countries, the final test of an apprentice was making a piece showing their best work – their own masterpiece. The apprentice’s masterpiece was submitted to a number of professionals in their field, who would judge the piece. A successful masterpiece would allow the apprentice to become a master, giving them both freedom from their teacher and the ability to enter the ranks of professionals in the field. A failing masterpiece meant more months or years of work, continuing to pursue their professional dream.

While we no longer demand that students give up their freedom for four to six years in an apprenticeship, the concept of passing a test where you truly show what one can do in a field continues to this day. Until recently, this consisted of manual applications of a final test where the final product was judged by a panel of experts. Rife with favoritism and limited in reliability, this has begun to change. A new wave of performance testing is sweeping professional credentialing: we have begun asking professionals to show not what they know, but how they would apply their knowledge in certain situations and to demonstrate this application. This application of knowledge provides a greater sense of accomplishment in the professional, as well as increased assurances to those who may hire them, that the professional knows not only what, but how.

PSI is at the cutting edge of performance testing in several areas, but particularly in our Certification division. With more than fifteen IT certification clients who use performance tests to assess their candidates, and our innovative use of “in-application testing,” PSI has the technological know-how to provide performance testing for credentialing organizations. The combination of our flexible technology platform and multiple delivery options, including multiple remote proctoring mechanisms, has provided a compelling value proposition for a number of credentialing organizations.

Dr. Rory McCorkleRory E. McCorkle, Ph.D., is Vice President of Certification Services at PSI.  Contact him at rmccorkle@psionline.com, or by phone at 818.847.6180.

Click here to learn more about PSI’s Lab-based and Performance-based Testing.


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