Assessments for the 2020s: Dispatch from SIOP’s Leading Edge Consortium

After hearing great things about it, I attended the Leading Edge Consortium (LEC) last month. This is an annual, 2-day meeting organized by SIOP during which a single topic is discussed from many different angles. All attendees are gathered in a single room, which means everyone has the opportunity to attend every single talk. And they should – this was one of the most fast-paced and informative conferences I have attended in a while. This year’s LEC was about Assessments for the 2020s. As you might imagine, this is a very exciting topic for an MRGer. It is great to see where the industry is going and what practitioners need to be most effective.

Conferences like this are also a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Even though I was the only member of the MRG team in attendance and this was my first LEC, I felt right at home as soon as I ran into some of our network members. It is always great to talk about our joint goals in a more relaxed setting than a meeting with the constraints of an agenda. It is also a great opportunity to get to know everyone better.

“Assessments for the 2020s” is a fairly broad topic but, as you might imagine, an ever-present theme was AI. Some people fear it, some welcome it, and many aren’t sure what it all means. There were many interesting revelations about this topic. One that I think we need to keep reminding ourselves of is the fact that AI is not the solution for everything. AI is as good as its design, and machines are only as useful as the data that are used to train them. There is a lot of room for human error in these steps and AI, in its current state, is not going to solve all our problems. It is not, for example, going to eliminate all biases in selection and it is not going to take over all of our jobs. What we all need to be focusing on is keeping up with the field, and making sure that we have a good understanding of AI’s capabilities and how best to use it to make us more efficient at what we do.

Another interesting theme in the assessment world is a trend toward quicker and easier assessments. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get deep insights from a 5-minute survey? As more than one LEC speaker mentioned, this preference for short and sweet often fails to consider quality, effectiveness and overall benefits. It is our responsibility as assessment providers to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between quality and ease in our products. This is something that has always been and will continue to be an integral part of our approach to assessment design and updates. Yet it is reassuring to hear that others understand the need for approach as well.

I attended LEC following a suggestion from a long-time network member. What conferences would you recommend? Which conferences help you keep up with relevant topics in assessment and development? Share your suggestions with us and we will hopefully see you in an upcoming event.

About the author

Maria is Head of Research at MRG. She loves a challenge and often gets a little too excited about running new studies. She finds peace and balance by cooking (as long as her husband is doing the cleaning) or being anywhere near the ocean.

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