If licensed drivers are expected to know the rules of the road, it is assumed driver educators will have expert knowledge of motoring laws and proper driving. This knowledge should be gained through professional preparatory coursework in driver task analysis, traffic safety, and principles of instruction. This article presents the instrumentation of a driver education instructor’s knowledge test. Attention is given to both the method of developing the test as well as the final version of the tool.

Since the mid-20th century, driving knowledge tests have been developed for the general public (Buros, 1966). Teacher-devised knowledge tests are regularly administered to students in driver education. For most persons, successful knowledge test performance is criterion for driver licensure. Whereas considerable attention has been given to measuring driver education knowledge in beginning drivers, little testing has been directed at the driver education professional. The instruments would have to measure knowledge in at least three areas: (1) driver task analysis - how to operate a motor vehicle safely, (2) traffic safety - driving properly within the highway transport ion system in accordance to motoring laws, (3) principles of instruction - how to teach someone in driver task analysis and traffic safety

This investigation was limited to constructing a knowledge test in the traffic safety area.



The investigator relied on an established methodology for measurement tool construction (Miller, Capiello Golaszewski, 1982). To start, the purpose of the test was to measure driver education instructors’ knowledge of traffic definitions and the regulation of traffic according to Virginia state law (VA Code, 2002). It should be added that Virginia is member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. More specifically, the test was designed to measure driver education instructors’ ability to:

1) Identify the definitions of important terminology related to driving motor vehicles.

2) Recall state motoring laws.

3) Recognize proper driving consistent with the law


A test blueprint was construed comprising two parts. Part I pertained to definitions of terminology related to driving motor vehicles. Multiple choice items were written in vocabulary directly from the article of law. Part II pertained to state motoring laws on regulation of traffic as well as proper driving consistent with the law. Multiple choice items were written in vocabulary less legalistic but consistent with the Administrative and Curriculum Guide for Driver Education in Virginia (VA DOE, 2001), and the Virginia DMV Driver’s Manual (VA DMV, 2002). Altogether, 130 knowledge items were generated by the investigator and organized around the aforesaid three objectives.


Examination of Content Validity

The two-part test was submitted to a committee of three content specialists representing undergraduate and graduate course instruction in driver education. The content specialists reviewed the 130 multiple choice items. Accordingly, the investigator provided correct responses for the items and reference material representing the source of the item-response. Items were either edited, modified or deleted by the content specialists.

It was decided by the committee that Part I of the test, items measuring terminology definitions, should be omitted. This section posed questions of what is a highway, roadway, lane, etc. Hence, the instrument was delimited to Part II, which contained 106 knowledge items on motoring laws related to traffic regulation and proper driving. Through committee work, several of these items were deleted having been deemed as inadequate, inappropriate or ineffective in measuring driver education instructor’s knowledge. The remaining items were modified to ensure their logical relationship with the stated objectives of the test. Therefore, of these 106 original items, 43 remained and were prepared for administration to selected driver education instructors.


Examination of Reliability

Titled Driver Education Instructor Knowledge Test, the 43 revised multiple choice items were administered to 20 driver education instructors representing public and commercial driving schools. Each subject was provided a US postal stamped, returned-addressed envelope containing the test along with an introductory cover letter that addressed human subjects rights. Data was collected and analyzed via Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The internal consistency of the 43 revised multiple choice items yielded a .37 alpha coefficient. Items having lower item-total score correlation coefficients were discarded by the investigator and recalculation yield a .79 alpha coefficient for 37 retained items (see Table 1).


Table 1: Test Reliability Analysis
Revised Items = 43 Retained Items = 37
Alpha = .3697 Alpha = .7955



Throughout instrumentation, issues arose that require further attention. To begin, it became evident that knowledge measurement items, although based on law, should be written in vocabulary adapted and utilized in standard curriculum and driver manual publications. Any items directly quoting the article of the law were either discarded or modified in less legalistic terms.

Each multiple choice item was written in a 4-option-response format. This was questioned by one reviewer with recommendation for 5 response format. Future instrumentation study investigators might want to consider a five-option-response format.

Although the results of this instrument have direct application to the 20 subjects completing the test, efforts by the content specialists warrant merit. Therefore, with some additional testing on other driver educator groups, this knowledge test has potential for larger scale application.* Related to this, since the present study was limited to traffic safety, future instrumentation endeavors should be directed at driver task analysis as well as principles of instruction.

One speculative use of this tool and other valid and reliable driver education knowledge tests would be online learning. Meaning, pre-service driver education teachers can be instructed and evaluated via World Wide Web technology. Already, professionals in the field have ascribed to technology-enhanced preparation of driver education instructors (Hattler, 1999; VADETS, 2002).

In conclusion, the investigator was successful in constructing a reasonably valid and reliable 37 multiple choice item knowledge test for driver education instructors. The test has promising application for professionals in public and commercial driving programs.


Buros, O. K. (Ed.). (1965). National test in driver education--preliminary Form. The sixth mental measurements yearbook. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Hattler, J.A. (1999). Technology for preservice teachers: "Driver education" for the information superhighway. Journal of Technology & Teacher Education 7(4): 323-32.

Miller, R.E., Cappiello, L.A. & Golaszewski, T.J. (1983). Instrumentation for the measurement of inmates' drug use, knowledge and attitudes. Journal of Drug Education,13, 63-72.

VA Code (2002). Traffic definitions (Chapter 3) and the regulation of traffic (Chapter 8) of Title 46.2 Motor Vehicles, Code of Virginia.

VADETS (2003). On-line driver education course. Virginia Association of Driver Education and Traffic Safety, Richmond, VA

VA DOE (2001). Administrative and curriculum guide for driver education in Virginia. Departments of Education/Motor Vehicles, Richmond, VA.


Richard E. Miller, Ed.D. (Health, Fitness and Recreation Resources, George Mason University)