Three modeling applications to promote automatic item generation for examinations in dentistry

Hollis Lai, Mark J. Gierl, B. Ellen Byrne, Andrew I. Spielman, David M. Waldschmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Test items created for dentistry examinations are often individually written by content experts. This approach to item development is expensive because it requires the time and effort of many content experts but yields relatively few items. The aim of this study was to describe and illustrate how items can be generated using a systematic approach. Automatic item generation (AIG) is an alternative method that allows a small number of content experts to produce large numbers of items by integrating their domain expertise with computer technology. This article describes and illustrates how three modeling approaches to item content-item cloning, cognitive modeling, and image-anchored modeling-can be used to generate large numbers of multiplechoice test items for examinations in dentistry. Test items can be generated by combining the expertise of two content specialists with technology supported by AIG. A total of 5,467 new items were created during this study. From substitution of item content, to modeling appropriate responses based upon a cognitive model of correct responses, to generating items linked to specific graphical findings, AIG has the potential for meeting increasing demands for test items. Further, the methods described in this study can be generalized and applied to many other item types. Future research applications for AIG in dental education are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Assessment
  • Dental education
  • Item generation
  • Item writing
  • Test development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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