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Engels started playing with Linux® in 1991 and obtained his Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), Red Hat Certified Instructor (RHCI), and Red Hat Certified Examiner (RHCX) certifications in 2002. He is in charge of Bluepoint's Total Linux®, Linux Kernel Internals®, Perl & Python Programming, and Extreme PHP curriculum and instruction development.
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Elvin Joseph Sanico was one of the best professors I was privileged to have at the UP National Institute of Physics in Diliman. His use of the continuity equation for steady one-dimensional flow to prove the "silent waters run deep" axiom was really cool!
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In loving memory of CPT Mario B. Mortega Sr., USAFFE, VET (1920-2004)
An In-Depth Look At The Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) Certification
Tuesday, Jan 10, 2006, 11:00 PM
Below is Vip's interesting feedback on Brent Marinaccio's July 28, 2005 LinuxWorld Magazine article. At Bluepoint, we allow our Extreme PHP students to use the PHP manual throughout their training and during their Certified PHP Developer (CPD) certification exams.

vip malixi commented on the 10 Jan 2006:

I thought you might be interested in comments about the PHP Certification exam (ZCE):

I was planning to take the PHP Certification exam but, as a Psychology Major who has studied Testing Methods, I am disappointed with how your test has been designed. It clearly fails to measure a person's understanding of PHP. It also does not measure a person's PHP coding ability. What your test does measure is a person's ability to memorize and understand manuals as well as handle trick questions.

A proper test must measure what it is supposed to measure. Thus, for example, a test to measure a person's spelling ability shouldn't require the examinee to know the meaning of the words being spelled. If the test was to measure the examinee's spelling and comprehension ability, then and only then, should questions about word meanings be included.

In your test, a lot of its difficulty stems from having to memorize large portions of the PHP manual, mainly function syntax. If part of your purpose is to measure the examinee's memorization capability, then this is valid. Unfortunately, this will more often than not run counter to your main goal of measuring a person's understanding of PHP. What I mean is, a person who is adept at PHP, may, for the sake of economy, speed and accuracy, always depend on consulting the manual or a glossary of functions to make sure their syntax is always correct and up to date--thus never really relying on memory. It is for a similar reason that pilots and astronauts go through a written checklist rather than depend on memory to avoid disastrous syntax/memory errors--but doing so, doesn't mean they are bad pilots or astronauts, it actually means they are thorough at what they do. Similarly, a good PHP programmer would invariably always consult with the manual or copy/paste from his glossary to make sure his syntax is correct. Thus for your test to require the examinee to memorize large portions of the PHP manual is actually counter to measuring whether the examinee has a good understanding of PHP.

It would be better then to allow examinees to have a copy of the PHP manual available during test taking and to inform them that it would be available. What this would do is allow the examinee to concentrate on his "understanding" of PHP rather than his memorization skills.

I suggest you make this correction to your certification exam. Another problem with the exam is the use of a lot of trick questions--questions that are not straightforward (in your exam, you can tell something is a trick question by asking yourself if the question-problem or code snippet example is actually used or can possibly be encountered in real-world situations--if it cannot, then it most probably is a trick question). Again, this is a "no no" in testing methods. If you are measuring a student's ability to uncover and overcome trickery, then well and good, but it has no place in a properly-designed test.

It would help greatly if you consulted with a good Testing Methods professional to check if your Certification Exam has other aspects that need improvement.

I suggest you have the people who developed the test to take a look at...

http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/quizzes.htm

...which gives a good overview of proper Testing Methods.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

Vip Malixi
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