FLUX aims at the investigation and capturing of cognitive ability fluctuation during the school day via smartphones (Ambulant Assessment of Cognitive Performance FLUctuations in the School ConteXt).

FLUX is an IDeA project from the DIPF Department for Education and Human Development (BiEn). It aims at conducting recurrent studies over a longer period of time. Smartphones are used to integrate the studies in the everyday life of the pupils in a minimal invasive way (i.e. intruding in the living environment with the smallest possible effort). Therefore, TBA developed a system for the mobile platform Android, to make tasks and questionnaires processable on smartphones. The system includes an exact time control of the assessment instruments and the correspondent server communication throughout the assessment time of several months. In addition, to enable test administration in the classroom, server hardware is developed according to specified demands.

Objectives and technical implementation

The project examines daily fluctuations in cognitive resources in everyday school contexts using smartphones as a so-called ‘ambulatory assessment‘. Students carry smartphones wherever they go, so they can be tested anytime and anywhere. The students are tested several times a day across a period of several weeks. In 2011 and 2012, a number of tests have been administered successfully. Assessments will be continued in the immediate future.
For Flux, TBA has developed a generally applicable assessment software for Android. The system developed by TBA consists of three major components, the ‘Assessment Rendering Application‘ (ARApp), the ‘Assessment Controlling Application’ (ACApp), both running on smartphones as well as the server infrastructure. Items and tests were prepared via QTI. Furthermore, hardware adaptations and configurations had been carried out.

1. Development of Android software for item presentation: ‘Assessment Rendering Application‘ (ARApp)

ARApp represents tests and tasks, executes them and shows test results and feedback for the user. The system accepts assessment contents in QTI format. QTI is one of the most frequently used specifications in the field of assessment and learning. QTI offers different templates, e.g. for item formats such as multiple-choice, matches, hot spots and feedback.

This is an extract of several tasks in the smartphone context (see below):


2. Development of a regulation and control system for the entire testing: ‘Assessment Controlling Application’ (ACApp)

This part of our mobile assessment system constitutes a separate Android application mainly serving a steering and control function for running instances of the ARApp. Further tasks of this application concern co-ordination of data transfer, administration of security aspects as well as locking the smartphones.

3. Development and administration of classroom servers and a central server

The server infrastructure provides an authentication and a security system for data synchronisation. Server-related infrastructure consists of a central server and several classroom servers.


Funding: IDeA in the context of the federal state initiative for excellence(LOEWE), DIPF

Co-operation: IDeA Center Schmiedek/Dirk

Duration: since 2010 (software development)

Project management: Florian Schmiedek, Judith Dirk (entire project at IDeA Center/DIPF); Heiko Rölke (TBA)

Contact: Mahtab Dalir