FAQ

An award-winning knowledge assessment platform based in concept mapping.

Sero! supports the entire assessment process, from authoring to taking to scoring to displaying results. Here’s a high-level look under the hood:

An Assessor is anyone who wants to assess someone else’s knowledge. A Taker is someone who “takes” a Sero! assessment.

Sero!’s current (v1.0) feature list is here.

Assessment

Concept maps assess Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Bartlett’s list is still one of the best for explaining HOTS:

  • – interpolation : filling in information that is missing from a logical sequence
  • – extrapolation : extending an incomplete argument or statement
  • – reinterpretation : rearrangement of information to effect a new interpretation

These are the same skills that Sero! helps to assess – regardless of the topic or domain.

Start with this question:

Language-based assessments – like multiple choice, fill-in, or essays – have long suffered from challenges. MC essentially assesses recognition, fill-ins assess recall, and essays require writing skills. MC and fill-in present questions in a sequence – treating each as though they are unrelated. MC are difficult to write well, while essays are difficult and time-consuming to grade.

Sero! provides a holistic assessment of HOTS and domain knowledge. Emphasis is placed on assessing concepts and how they relate. Answers become dependent on other answers, so Takers have to think through an entire segment of the domain rather than recognizing or recalling bits. They can express the depth of their knowledge regardless of their writing capabilities.

Sero! compares a Taker’s map to a MasterMap, which represents the knowledge and reasoning that is standard, common and/or commonly agreed to, or perhaps known only by the experts, for any given domain.

For those who want details… The score for a Taker’s map is calculated by adding one point to the total score for each answer the Taker provided that matched the MasterMap. The total is then divided by the total number of items in the entire assessment. If an item requires multiple answers (for example, ConnectTo that connects to multiple concepts), the score is added equal to the number of correct answers divided by the total number of answers required. If additional or missing answers are provided, the Taker is demerited half the credit of a correct answer for that item.

To quote education researcher Steffen Schaal, “the validity and reliability of Concept Mapping assessment has been properly explored.” Almost 50 years of empirical research support this claim. The U.S. Department of Education’s Science Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress calls for the sort of assessment Sero! provides – check it out on page 107 of the Framework.

We’re satisfied.

In some ways, yes. They are new to most Takers, so Sero! provides instructions and help. Sero! assessments can also vary in difficulty depending on the domain content, number of items in an assessment, and the types of assessment items. This flexibility gives Assessors lots of options to use in their specific assessment context.

Sero! can be used whenever someone’s understanding of a domain or topic needs to be assessed. For learners, this might be at the beginning of a course or module to gauge how and what they understand, so that they can be taught from that point. Or throughout the module, to gauge how they are doing. Or at the end, to gauge whether they got it and to figure out where they should go next.

In professional use, job candidates can take Sero! assessments to determine whether they really know their stuff. Or shortly after hire to determine what onboarding activities will be necessary and where to start on the training pathway.

Sero! was designed through a series of user-experience reviews. We’ve embedded lots of helpful instructions for Takers of any age. All Takers go through a brief instructional page, with quick videos, to learn how to take an assessment.

Great idea! Building from scratch is a valuable exercise, for Taker and Assessor alike. Paper and computerized versions have their own advantages.

But making good maps requires some instruction and a fair bit of practice. We believe working with Sero! maps will help build skill in creating good maps.

For Assessors, reviewing lots of maps can be very challenging. Doing so takes a lot of time. Marking them is also hard. Rubrics can be confusing, and assessors need something to compare to, even it’s just the ‘map’ in their own head. But perhaps most importantly, gleaning trends across a group of Takers is, at the very least, cumbersome. 

Sero! helps solve many of these challenges. Being cloud based, it can scale to many Taker and Assessors – to clearly show trends and enable sharing. 

Assessors can author their own maps using Sero! or other concept mapping programs (we recommend CmapToolsTM). When assessors create their own map, they can organize maps as they see fit and to reflect the knowledge they want to assess, and they can pinpoint particular conceptual knowledge.

Sero! Learning Assessments offers maps authoring services – email us at support@serolearn.com for details. 

Authoring assessments in Sero! is very easy. We have made sure of that by working with lots of assessors to help guide our design of Sero!.

That said, we want all Assessors to be get the most out of Sero!. So we also offer Professional Development Workshops – tailored to your organization’s needs.

Interoperability

We know there are lots of tools that enable drawing, sharing, and linking concept maps. However, none provide the end-to-end support for knowledge assessment. You can use those tools to draw concept maps, but you’ll have a lot of manual work to do if you want to conduct an assessment.

One way to think about it: If other concept mapping tools are like WordTM and PowerPointTM – Sero! is like ExcelTM.

Sero! imports proposition sets from .csv and .txt files, and concept maps from CmapToolsTM using the .cxl format.

xAPI is an e-learning software specification that allows learning content and learning systems to share data with each other that records and tracks all types of learning experiences. We have developed Sero! to be xAPI from the get-go. You can read about it here.

Contact us at support@serolearn.com if you are looking for more information on Sero!’s xAPI vocabulary.

Accounts

Sero! pricing models are based on an Individual Assessor account, which provides 50 Taker accounts, and on the type and size of the Organization that Assessors and Takers belong to.

Pricing and new account registration is available on the Registration Page.

Contact us at support@serolearn.com for research pricing or if special circumstances may warrant a discount.

Yes – for a month. Anyone can register as an Individual Assessor and get 50 Taker accounts to try out Sero! for one month. To register, visit the Registration Page

Takers cannot register for an account – at least not yet. Assessors and Organizational account administrators create Taker accounts.

Misc

In 2017, Sero! was awarded Highly Commended for Innovation by the eAssessment Association – check it out!

In 2018, Sero! was selected for the prestigious Innovation Lab at the Association of Testing Publishers’ Innovations in Testing conference – which is pretty sweet!

Also in 2018, Sero! was selected for inclusion in the Startup Pavilion at the International Society for Technology in Education conference – here it is!

And the hits keep coming for 2018… Sero! was shortlisted in the Learning Assessment category in the Reimagine Education competition!

Sero! Learning Assessments offers Professional Development Workshops to introduce Assessors to Sero!, its features, and its applications.

We also offer MasterMap and AssessmentMap authoring services – contact us at support@serolearn.com when your organization is ready to generate content.

Sero! is applicable in education, training, talent management, and more. We plan to launch Sero! in early 2018. To date, we have conducted extensive usability testing with prototype versions with several Department of Defense learning and training organizations and at private companies. Our colleague, education researcher Paulo Correia, has also been conducting research with his students at the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) in Brazil – the pictures on our homepage are from tests in their computer lab.

Check back to this FAQ in a little while… no doubt we’ll have more to say.

Sero!’s future (v1.5) feature list is here.

In Latin, sero means “to join together.” You see it in words like serotonin, which “joins together” neurons. In concept maps, the relations join together the concepts to form propositions, basic units of knowledge.

Sero! Learning Assessments, Inc., is the world’s leading provider of concept map-based learning assessments, through its Sero! platform, professional development and content services. Our founder, Brian Moon, has been involved in the concept mapping community for nearly 20 years, including editing Applied Concept Mapping: Creating, Organizing and Using Knowledge (CRC Press, 2011) with the originator of concept maps, Joseph Novak.

We are also honored to be advised by these distinguished members of the concept mapping, e-assessment, and business communities:

Dr. Richard Shavelson
Margaret Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University
Peter W. Foltz, Ph.D.
Center for Next Gen Learning and Assessment, Pearson
Dr. Maria Araceli Ruiz-Primo
Professor of Education, Stanford University
Professor Ian Kinchin
Department of Higher Education, University of Surrey
Professor Paulo Correia
Universidade de São Paulo
Lee Pugh
First Citizens Bank
References

Bartlett, F.C. (1958). Thinking: An experimental and social study.

Schaal, S. (2008). Cmapping In Science Education Assessment: An Approach to Computer-Supported Achievement Tests in an Interdisciplinary Hypermedia Learning Environment. Proc. of the 3rd Int Conf on CMapping. Tallinn & Helsinki.