The CBA ItemBuilder software is an authoring tool for creating dynamic and interactive tasks in computer-based testing. Programming skills are not required.

A core task at the TBA Centre concerns the support of national and international projects, for instance the PISA study, and educational research institutions in putting their performance assessments and questionnaire-based studies into practice. The TBA team has developed a number of tools that enable researchers to conduct innovative assessments and easily implement even complex requirements themselves.

What is the CBA ItemBuilder?

The CBA ItemBuilder software is a so-called authoring tool for creating tasks used in computer-based assessments. These tasks are called items and can be arranged on the canvas within the software and displayed in a browser. 

The content of these items can be produced in an efficient manner without programming. However, the participation in frequently organised workshops is recommended. The main target group consists of Psychologists and Pedagogues.


Types of Items


  • Single choice via radio buttons, e.g. Likert Scale

  • Multiple choice via checkboxes, e.g. personality tests

  • Input fields

  • Drag & drop, e.g. memory game, puzzle

  • Text highlights

  • Play or record audio/video within items

  • Arithmetic tasks with timer function

  • Interactive slides/navigation pages

  • Decision scenarios


Advanced Features

The CBA ItemBuilder offers a number of features supporting the process of item development: 

Finite State Machines (FSM) allow for determining and changing so-called discrete states. Thereby, an item author determines the (internal) states that are possible in an item, and what events will trigger a change (time, Interactions). Conditions might influence the presentation of an item; they can for instance trigger audio or video materials or influence graphical elements.

  • The Open Language Tool (OLT) offers a quick translation of items.

  • WebBrowserPages contain a tool bar for simulating central elements of web environments.

How does the CBA ItemBuilder work?

Creating an item/items


  1. Creating pages and different page types

    A file is labelled project in the CBA ItemBuilder.  A project consists of one or more pages. The CBA ItemBuilder offers a standard type for simple pages as well as other page types that enhance the scope of page functions by means of specific characteristics. To give an example, so-called web browser pages are used to simulate a website, and so-called X-pages are used for navigation bars or constantly visible headers that might contain elements like logos or buttons. In the CBA ItemBuilder, pages that have once been created can be stored as templates which can then serve as future starting points.

  2. Navigation

    Navigation between pages is, for example, based on links or buttons. Page navigation may be tied to certain conditions (states), e.g. whether or not a task was solved correctly. It is also possible to change pages after expiry of time allocated to working on a task.

  3. Item design

    The CBA ItemBuilder is an innovative tool and offers a user interface where items can be edited in the draft view. Items are created and processed by dragging and dropping elements from the palette into the working area. Elements can always be modified. Each page can be individually designed and adapted, and it may contain different response formats and / or elements. Options to individually design items are manifold. The interface offers many layout elements and it is possible to easily and quickly integrate graphical elements.

  4. Item preview

    To test items, it is always possible to generate a preview, where the project is automatically presented as HTML site in the browser.


Automatic Scoring

It is possible to store predefined scoring rules for a CBA ItemBuilder project. To this end, one or more so-called Tasks are created. A Task is the entry point for an exercise for which an Item score is generated automatically. The definition of automatic scoring in the CBA ItemBuilder implies that results are immediately accessible, thus allowing for the implementation of adaptive testing. Scoring is independent from test delivery technology; it can be defined and tested in the process of item development. The author is free to decide what the scoring shall include. The ItemBuilder does not only permit distinctions between correct and false responses but also filtering of complex answers such as text entries.


Test Compilation and Delivery

CBA ItemBuilder items are displayed in a web browser. A server is required in addition to a browser to run the system. To run a test, a suitable environment is needed, e.g. TAO or MATE. It is subsequently possible to compile several ItemBuilder projects into a test. CBA ItemBuilder items can be embedded in nearly all external delivery tools because the integration is supported via a Java script interface. In addition, there is also a native delivery platform, the so-called Execution Environment.

Many delivery options are possible, ranging from the installation of a software package on a personal computer or laptop to software packages on USB sticks, delivery via Virtual Machine (VMs) or online (the software package can be accessed via VM or hosted on an external server).

Where and when to use the CBA ItemBuilder?

For instance, the CBA ItemBuilder has been used for computer-based assessments in schools, as online tests or as embedded competence diagnostics in Computer Assisted Personal Interviews.  Click here to find a list of assessments that had been implemented with (the help of) the CBA ItemBuilder.

How do I get the CBA ItemBuilder?

The CBA ItemBuilder is free of charge and can be provided together with the Execution Environment


Project Lead: Dr. Ulf Kröhne

Co-operation: Nagarro


Further Links: ItemBuilder-Wiki


 Presentation from the most recent workshop