The Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research Center
Established in 1994 by Dr. Mark Wilson, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley, the Berkeley Evaluation and Assessment Research (BEAR) Center conducts research on the integration of assessment - the measurement of individual students, teachers, schools, and other institutions - and evaluation - the use of such assessments to study educational and social interventions.
The core of this research is the development and use of appropriate assessment methods for evaluating students, schools, and educational policy. To these ends, the BEAR Center has become a leader in the development of assessments for hard-to-measure variables, the development and use of advanced statistical models, and novel reporting modes that more comprehensively reflect the complex and multilayered nature of education.
The BEAR Assessment System
A key component of the center's work has been the development of an integrated assessment system, called the BEAR Assessment System (BAS; Wilson & Sloane, 2000). BAS represents a synthesis of new theories and methodologies in the field of measurement, applied to the practice of assessment in education, with a particular focus on teacher-managed, classroom-centered assessment of student performance from a learning progression perspective. The system is based on the tenet that assessments should be developed to match the purpose and content of the instruction in which the assessments are embedded. (Learn more about BAS.)
The first deployment of this assessment system was as a curriculum-embedded system in science Wilson & Sloane, 2000, developed in concert with the Science Education for Public Understanding Program at the Lawrence Hall of Science in 1996, but it has clear and logical extensions to many other contexts such as:
Higher education (Wilson & Scalise, 2006),
Large scale assessment (Wilson & Draney, 2004),
Early childhood education (Draney, Moore, & Wilson, 2005; Karelitz et al., 2010),
Longitudinal data analysis (Wilson, Zheng, & McGuire),
Learning progressions (Black, Wilson & Yao, 2011; Wilson, 2009),
Cognitive diagnosis (Briggs et al., 2006; Brown et al,, 2010; Brown & Wilson, 2007; Wilson, 2008),
Technology enhanced items (Scalise et al., 2007; Scalise & Wilson, 2011),
Teachers rating severity (Draney & Wilson, 2008).
Disciplinary areas, such as:
Chemistry (Claesgens, Scalise, Wilson & Stacy, 2009),
Mathematics (Liu & Wilson, 2009; Wilson & Cartensen, 2007),
Physics (Scalise, Madyastha, Minstrell, & Wilson, 2010),
and Statistics (Lehrer, Kim, Ayers & Wilson, in press).
Areas outside of education:
Psychological variables (Dawson et al., 2010; Liu, & Wilson, 2010)
Sociological variables (Rocca, Krishnan, Barrett, & Wilson, 2010)
And Health outcomes (Wilson, Allen & Li, 2006).
The BEAR IT Group
The BEAR Center has also worked on the development of tools to support all the stages involved in the creation of an assessment, including the construct definition, item design, instrument assembly, assessment delivery, data collection, response scoring, statistical modeling, validity and reliability analysis, and reporting of results.
This efforts began with ConstructMap, software for conducting item response analysis, and has since expanded to the development of additional analysis tools, such as web-based applications (DRDPtech, BASS) to support assessment design, delivery, and analysis, taking advantage of technology to provide better and more innovative assessments as well as timely and useful feedback.
The BEAR Center Today
The BEAR Center team currently includes more than 30 members, including researchers, postdoctoral scholars, programmers, graduate students, and support staff, who collaborate with researchers in universities across the United States and abroad to improve education through better assessments. It is engaged in projects that further research and development of many aspects of assessment and evaluation in education, and, over the years, has been involved in projects that range across many areas and topics, both in education and beyond.