IntroductionAssessment involves subjecting students to a series of activities which helps tutors to measure and ascertain student’s level of understanding the course of study. To achieve this, several types of examining techniques are employed, one of them being the use of multiple choice questions. In multiple choice questions, the examiner poses a problem to the students and then allows them to figure out the answer from a number of distractors closely related to it, (Curzan, 2011). These distractors aim at checking on the student’s ability to get a clear picture of the concept communicated and be able to single it out from closely related but different concepts.
Benefits of multiple choice questions
Firstly, multiple choice questions are so easy to give to students, both in print media or electronic systems. This in return saves time, that otherwise would have been spent on reading literature works from students. Tutors are also able to mark so easily and give an almost immediate feedback due to the nature of answers.
Secondly, due to the nature of multiple choice questions, being many in number, the tutor is able to examine the student on a number of aspects through the use of a single test. Apart from the above mentioned pros of these types of questions, several critical as well as intellectual skills can be assessed from such questions.
The costs of creating multiple choice questions
Creating multiple choice questions is time consuming and require an in-depth and analysis of the problem to be presented to students. In such situations the tutor is required to come up with distractors which requires students to think and analyze the situation at hand before settling for the correct answer. Coming up with a platform that students can do the test and be able to check their grade is expensive, especially for the electronic tests.
Multiple choice questions can also give misleading information about the student, as unprepared students can guess through the answers and be lucky to score higher marks. The student’s ability to think and develop new ideas and express a thorough understanding of subject taught is limited and this might affect the thinking capacity of an individual, (Haladyna, 1999).
Difficulties of creating multiple choice assessment
Designing multiple choice questions is quite challenging especially in the formulation of distractors that sends students into critical thinking. Creating multiple choice questions that would restrict the student to the objective in the process of reading and analyzing through the distractors and settle for the best answer is a problem, (Morrison S., 2001). Therefore, there are higher chances that the student might be in a mix of ideas posed by the wider scope of information given.
Three issues that must be addressed in multiple choice assessments
Firstly, the issue of uncertainty that students encounter has to be dealt with and confidence instilled instead. Tutors should try to ensure that the students’ score depicts the volume of knowledge gained in the course of study and not through guessing. Secondly the nature of multiple choice questions has to be such that it does not seem to distract the student more from the designated goal of study. This can really be a problem especially if the student is not able to figure out the correct answers from closely related distractors. Last but not least, the multiple choice assessment and grading should be in a way that the teacher is able to examine the student on a number of levels of learning taught in class.
Despite all these challenges and costs which are associated with this method, it can be a noble way of assessing students’ level of learning if formulated and administered in the correct way.
- Curzan, A & Damour, L. (2011). Final Day to Final Grade: A graduate student’s Guide to teaching. Ann Arbor, M, I: The University of Michigan press. Chapter7: p.122-126.
- Haladyna T. M. (1999). Developing and Validating multiple-choice test items, 2nd Edition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associate.
- Kehoe, J. (1995). Writing Multiple Test Items.PracticalAssessment, Research & Evaluation, 4(9). Retrieved, 26, 2018
- Mc Alluster, D. & Guidice, R.M. (2012). Teaching in higher education, 17(2), 193-207.Magna Publishers.
- Morrison, S & Free, K. (2001). Writing multiple choice test items that promote and measure Critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Education, 40:17-24.
- Terry, T.M. (1980). The narrative exam – an approach to creative organization of multiple-choice tests. Journal of College Science Teaching, 9(3), 156-158.