Writing essay and higher order test items

Morrison, Susan and Free, Kathleen. Was the level of difficulty appropriate? The stem should be meaningful by itself and should present a definite problem.

Savvy test-takers can use information in one question to answer another question, reducing the validity of the test. If scores are uniformly high, for example, you may be doing everything right, or have an unusually good class. Because students can typically answer a multiple choice item much more quickly than an essay question, tests based on multiple choice items can typically focus on a relatively broad representation of course material, thus increasing the validity of the assessment.

Applied Measurement in Education , 2 1 , , Alternatives that are heterogeneous in content can provide cues to student about the correct answer. Center for Teaching and Learning. There is little difference in difficulty, discrimination, and test score reliability among items containing two, three, and four distractors.

In either case, students can use partial knowledge to arrive at a correct answer. All alternatives should be plausible. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Validity of a taxonomy of multiple-choice item-writing rules.

The reliability is enhanced when the number of MC items focused on a single learning objective is increased. Designing tests is an important part of assessing students understanding of course content and their level of competency in applying what they are learning. For this reason, some faculty prefer short-answer items to essay tests. Home Preparing to teach Teaching different types of classes Course and syllabus design Teaching the first day of class Lecturing Constructing tests Critiquing student projects Grading Faculty and TA collaboration Information and resources: The number of alternatives can vary among items as long as all alternatives are plausible.

Multiple choice test items have several potential advantages: How can we construct good multiple-choice items? The stem should be negatively stated only when significant learning outcomes require it.

Finally, designing alternatives that require a high level of discrimination can also contribute to multiple choice items that test higher-order thinking. Alternatives should be stated clearly and concisely. Validity is the degree to which a test measures the learning outcomes it purports to measure. Alternatives should be free from clues about which response is correct. Alternatives should be mutually exclusive.

A stem that presents a definite problem allows a focus on the learning outcome. The stem should be a question or a partial sentence. Developing and validating multiple-choice test items, 2 nd edition. Alternatives should be homogenous in content. Multiple choice test items have several potential advantages:. On the other hand, your test may not have measured what you intended it to.

Journal of Nursing Education The alternatives consist of one correct or best alternative, which is the answer, and incorrect or inferior alternatives, known as distractors. The alternatives should be presented in a logical order e. If a significant learning outcome requires negative phrasing, such as identification of dangerous laboratory or clinical practices, the negative element should be emphasized with italics or capitalization.

The function of the incorrect alternatives is to serve as distractors,which should be selected by students who did not achieve the learning outcome but ignored by students who did achieve the learning outcome. The stem should not contain irrelevant material , which can decrease the reliability and the validity of the test scores Haldyna and Downing Were the questions worded clearly?

The key to taking advantage of these strengths, however, is construction of good multiple choice items. Regardless of the kind of exams you use, you can assess their effectiveness by asking yourself some basic questions:. Guidelines for University Faculty, University of Washington Be boundless Connect with us: If you decide you want to test mostly recall of information or facts and you need to do so in the most efficient way, then you should consider using multiple choice tests.

In addition, the objective scoring associated with multiple choice test items frees them from problems with scorer inconsistency that can plague scoring of essay questions. Constructing an Effective Stem 1. On the other hand, multiple choice exams provide less opportunity than essay or short-answer exams for you to determine how well the students can think about the course content or use the language of the discipline in responding to questions.

The following ideas may be helpful as you begin to plan for a multiple choice exam: Multiple choice test questions, also known as items, can be an effective and efficient way to assess learning outcomes.

A question stem is preferable because it allows the student to focus on answering the question rather than holding the partial sentence in working memory and sequentially completing it with each alternative Statman Constructing Effective Alternatives 1. Multiple choice test items can be written to assess various levels of learning outcomes, from basic recall to application, analysis, and evaluation. Multiple choice questions can be difficult to write, especially if you want students to go beyond recall of information, but the exams are easier to grade than essay or short-answer exams.

Additional Resources Burton, Steven J. Students often have difficulty understanding items with negative phrasing Rodriguez Common student errors provide the best source of distractors. Cheung, Derek and Bucat, Robert. Retrieved [todaysdate] from https: While essay and short-answer questions are easier to design than multiple-choice tests, they are more difficult and time-consuming to score.

Sophisticated test-takers are alert to inadvertent clues to the correct answer, such differences in grammar, length, formatting, and language choice in the alternatives. The reason s for giving a test will help you determine features such as length, format, level of detail required in answers, and the time frame for returning results to the students.

This information can help you identify areas in which students need further work, and can also help you assess the test itself: Writing multiple-choice test items that promote and measure critical thinking. Keep the specific content of items independent of one another. Because students are choosing from a set of potential answers, however, there are obvious limits on what can be tested with multiple choice items.

Avoid complex multiple choice items , in which some or all of the alternatives consist of different combinations of options. A multiple choice item consists of a problem, known as the stem, and a list of suggested solutions, known as alternatives.

Moreover, essay tests can suffer from unreliable grading; that is, grades on the same response may vary from reader to reader or from time to time by the same reader. Plausible alternatives serve as functional distractors, which are those chosen by students that have not achieved the objective but ignored by students that have achieved the objective.