Defining the infrastructure for a national item bank service

Sclater, N.; Boyle, E.; Bull, J.; Church, C.; Craven, P.; Young, R.; Danson, M.; Halliday, M.; Howie, L.; Kelly, J.X.; Lay, S.; Massey, M.; McAlpine, M.; MacDonald, M.; Rogers, S. and White, S.A. (2005). Defining the infrastructure for a national item bank service. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference, 5-6 Jul 2005, Loughborough University, England.



Item banks (sometimes known as question banks) have been around for many years but are not yet widely used in the UK. There are clear benefits such as economies of scale when items are built across a subject area or sector. When this is coordinated centrally items are more likely to be peer reviewed, validated properly and to adhere to technical, interoperability and accessibility standards. Quality can be enhanced by delivering the items to larger numbers of candidates, leading to improvements following analysis of item usage data. However there is currently no satisfactory way for these to be stored and made available to potential users; the available commercial learning object repositories are unable to deal with assessment content adequately.
In an attempt to solve such issues and to begin to define the infrastructure of a distributed national item bank service, the Item Bank Infrastructure Study (IBIS) brought together individuals and institutions in the UK with key expertise in areas relating to item banks. The study was funded by JISC under the Exchange for Learning (X4L) Programme with financial contributions from three of the exam boards involved – Edexcel, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES). This paper extracts the key points and conclusions from the full report which can be downloaded from An accompanying paper in these proceedings, Conceptualising Item Banks, defines items, item pools and item banks, and outlines the main components of a possible distributed item bank service.

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