Challenging minds? Students' perceptions of computer-based World Class Tests of problem solving

World Class Arena is a British government initiative to assess and develop the skills of gifted and talented children. Part of the strategy is to use computer-based tests. Students attempt tasks that require them to engage in higher-order problem solving, often in interactive, realistic, contexts. This study reports observations and interviews in schools. Students found tasks engaging and motivating, despite the unfamiliarity of the problem types and the challenging nature of the items. Students had no problems working with computers. They were sometimes distracted by attractive graphics, and sometimes used poor heuristics when attempting tasks. The study provides evidence that a computer environment can provide new ways to assess the problem solving skills of highly able students.

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