Can Virtual Reality Play a Role in Certification?

New study suggests there may be potential in high-stakes personnel testing

A new study published by the NCCCO Foundation suggests there may be potential for the use of virtual reality (VR) technology in delivering exams to crane operators.

The study, which was conducted over an eight-month period, tracked the performance of a group of NCCCO certification candidates taking crane operator certification exams on actual cranes as well as via VR-simulation.  The results indicate that the VR test is a highly reliable measure for predicting a passing score on an actual crane.

“The likelihood of a candidate passing the VR test but failing the subsequent parallel test on an actual crane is 5.5%,” said Wallace Judd, PhD., who designed and authored the study.  “And the likelihood that a candidate will get the same pass/fail score on both the VR test and the actual crane is 0.87.”

However, Judd, an internationally recognized expert in the development of performance-based exams for high-stakes certification testing, and who has served as an ANSI assessor for its personnel certification accreditation program, cautioned that, while the results were encouraging, further studies would likely be needed. 

“This study has significant implications for the way virtual reality is viewed in the professional assessment community,” Wallace added, “and in that respect it is truly ground-breaking.  However, additional studies will be required to determine conclusively whether it would be appropriate to certify a candidate VR technology as a replacement for an actual crane.”