Multiple Choice Item Construction D. Michele Jacobsen Assistant Professor [email_address]
Test Development Process 3. Table of Specifications 6. Composition of Instructions 7. Development of Answer Sheets
8. Construction of Answer Keys
3. Table of Specifications
Two Important Characteristics of Tests free from extraneous sources of error
how well a test measures what it is supposed to measure
Formative vs. Summative Tests monitor progress toward goals within a course of study
assess overall achievement of course goals
A. Table of Specifications
ensure proper emphasis given to all elements of a course of study
Table of Specifications (2) Start with Instructional Objectives 1. Identifies parts of circulation system. 2. Explains function of parts in relation to whole system. 3. Distinguishes between circulation system and other bodily systems.
Biology 30: Circulation Unit Test
Biology 30: Circulation
Need to Consider and Decide: Weight to be given to each objective Weight to be given to each level of taxonomy
Estimate number of items in each cell
Biology 30: Circulation
B. Item Selection Objectively Scored (Selection)
Subjectively Scored (Supply)
C. Item Construction Selected Response Test Items Item construction skills for valid and reliable measures of student achievement. Guidelines which apply to all types Specific Suggestions for writing each type
Advantages and Disadvantages of Each
Guidelines for Writing Objective Items 1. Construct at appropriate level of difficulty for examinees 2. Include Items at appropriate level of difficulty for purpose of test. 3. Test significant elements of a course.
4. Write independent items.
5. Construct questions free from extraneous reasons for problems. 6. Communicate the question in clear, concise language. 7. In the correct alternatives, paraphrase statements from the text. II. Guidelines for Writing Objective Items
8. Exclude clues to correct answer.
III. Guidelines for Writing Objective Items
9. Provide one correct answer.
Alternate Response Items Involves the selection of one of two alternatives Mainly for Knowledge & Comprehension
Can be written at higher levels
True / False Word statements clearly. Vague or ambiguous wording will confuse students. Poor: Heavy smoking causes lung cancer. T F Better : Heavy smoking often causes lung cancer. T F i.e., General Wolseley led Canadian troops to Manitoba in 1870. 3 tricks: Colonel, British, Not yet a province
Do not use trivial statements to “pad out” the number of questions and marks to arrive at a predetermined level.
True / False Statements should be entirely true, or entirely false: In King Lear, Regan ordered Gloucester’s eyes to be plucked out and Gloucester died when he jumped off the cliff of Dover. In King Lear, Regan ordered Gloucester’s eyes to be plucked out. (T)
In King Lear, Gloucester died when he jumped off the cliff at Dover. (F)
True / False Avoid using universal descriptors such as “ never ”, “ none ”, “ always ”, and “ all ”. Testwise students will recognize that there are few absolutes. Avoid negative words, as they are often overlooked by students. Poor: It was not unheard of for Henry VIII to close monasteries in England. T F
Better : Henry VIII closed some monasteries in England. (T)
True / False Do not include two ideas in one statement unless you are evaluating student’s understanding of cause and effect relationships. Poor: Porpoises are able to communicate because they are mammals. T F Better : Porpoises are mammals. T F Porpoises are able to communicate. T F Provide a “T” and “F” beside each statement and ask students to circle correct answer.
Avoids problem of students writing illegible letters.
True / False & Variations Include more false than true statments in any given test and vary the number of false statements from test to test. tendency to mark more statements true than false. discrimination between those who know the content and those who do not is greater for false expressions. Avoid using negative statements.
Under the demands of the testing situation, students may fail to see the negative qualifier.
Matching Items directions for matching the two. Similar to multiple choice, but easier and more efficient to construct
Can be written to assess Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis level behaviors
Guidelines for Writing Matching Items Provide clear instructions on how to indicate the correct answers. Indicate whether the same response can be used more than once. Maintain grammatical consistency within and between columns. within a column: either sentence or point form between columns: one or the other
Ensure that any matching question appears entirely on one page.
2. Guidelines for Writing Matching Items Provide an unequal number of premises and responses reduces guessing and elimination increases measure of comprehension Avoid designing questions which require students to draw lines between premise and response. confusing for student and marker
provide space for letter or number answers
3. Guidelines for Writing Matching Items Make sure lists are homogeneous. i.e., do not include items testing names, dates, and events. Instead, make every response plausible Make the wording of the premises longer than the wording of the responses.
Identify the items in one list with numbers and those in the second list with letters.
Example: Directions: 1. On the line to the right of each phrase in Column I, write the letter for the word in Column II that best matches the phrase. Column I Column II 1. Name of the answer in addition problems. 2. Name of the answer in subtraction problems. 3. Name of the answer in multiplication problems. 4. Name of the answer in division problems. A. Difference B. Dividend C. Multiplicand D. Product E. Quotient F. Subtrahend G. Sum
2. Each word in Column II may be used once, more than once, or not at all.
Short Answer Test Items Typically, the student is asked to reply with a word, phrase, name, or sentence, rather than a more extended response. Direct Questions / Short Answer Who is the current Prime Minister of Canada? Incomplete Sentences / Fill In the Blanks The current Prime Minister of Canada is _____? Items are fairly easy to construct and mark
Assess mainly knowledge, comprehension, and some application.
Guidelines for Writing Short Answer Items Questions must be carefully worded so that all students understand the specific nature of the question asked and the answer required. Poor: Wellington defeated Napoleon in _____ ?
Better: In what battle fought in 1815 did Wellington defeat Napoleon? OR In what year did Wellington defeat Napoleon at Waterloo?
II. Guidelines for Writing Short Answer Items Word completion or fillin questions so that missing information is at, or near the end of, the sentence. Makes reading and responding easier. Poor: In the year ______ , Canada turned 100 years old. Better: Canada turned 100 years old in the year _____ .
Instructions and teacher’s expectations about filling in blanks should be made clear. Indicate whether each blank of equal length represents one word or several words, whether long blanks require sentences or phrases, and whether synonymous terms are accepted.
III. Guidelines for Writing Short Answer Items When an answer is to be expressed in numerical units, the unit should be stated. Poor: If a room measures 7 metres by 4 metres, the perimeter is _____ . Better : If a room measures 7 metres by 4 metres, the perimeter is _____ metres (or m). Do not use too many blanks in completion items. The emphasis should be on knowledge and comprehension, not mind reading!
Consider: In the year _____ , Prime Minister _________ signed the __________ , which led to a ___________ which was __________ .
Multiple Choice Items Interpretive Exercise
Advantages & Disadvantages
Terminology: Multiple Choice 1. Stem: presents the problem 2. Keyed Response: correct or best answer 3. Distracters: appear to be reasonable answers to the examinee who does not know the content 1. The capital city of Canada is a. Vancouver b. Montreal c. Toronto *d. Ottawa 4 1 2 3
4. Options: include the distracters and the keyed response.
Ambiguity Desirable quality in multiple choice items Allows discrimination between those who know material and those who do not.
Even those who know content have difficulty choosing correct answer
Types of Multiple Choice Items Only one correct response requires examinee to select alternative closest to being correct
More than one correct or best answer
Interpretive Exercise Usually begins with verbal, tabular or graphic information which is the basis for 1 or more multiple choice questions. map, passage from a story, a poem, a cartoon Can challenge students at various levels of understanding application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation Exercise contains all information needed to answer questions
Readily adaptive to the more important outcomes of disciplines.
Interpretive Exercises (con’t) If student answers incorrectly it is because they have not mastered the thinking or reasoning required by the question, NOT because they failed to memorize background information.
Math questions: give students the formulas, test ability to apply concepts, rather than ability to memorize formulas.
Guidelines for Writing: Multiple Choice Items State stem in the form of a question. c) between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans
Between which two oceans is Canada located?
Guidelines for Writing: Stems Place most of the subject matter in the Stem ensures full statement of problem Eliminate extraneous material from the Stem goal is to measure student achievement, not to present new material maximize use of time for demonstrating understanding, not reading ability Avoid Negatively phrased Stems students may miss the qualifier
use only when learning outcome requires this type of differentiation
I. Guidelines for Writing: MC Ensure similarity among alternatives with regard to: Grammatical errors provide unintentional clues to the answer
When in doubt, students will select the longest alternative as the correct answer
Example: Length of Alternatives Neurotics are more likely than psychotics to a. be dangerous to society b. have delusional symptoms c. be dangerous to themselves
*d. have insight into their own inappropriate behavior but nevertheless feel rather helpless in terms of dealing with their difficulties
II. Guidelines for Writing: MC Make one of the alternatives the most clearly correct or best answer exception: multiple answer form reduces intrinsic ambiguity reduces frustration during test Make distracters plausible desire to attract students who really do NOT know the answer to the question create distracters from elements of the correct response
improves reliability of item
Example: Undemanding Distracters
Mickey Mouse’s two nephews are
III. Guidelines for Writing: MC Avoid parallel language between the Stem and the Correct Response gives clues to keyed response emphasizes testwiseness, not knowledge Randomly distribute answers across the alternative positions inexperienced test writers emphasize “b” and “c” alternatives (hide the answer!!)
do NOT use an interpretable order of keyed responses
IV. Guidelines for Writing: MC Use qualifiers such as “all of the above” and “none of the above” sparingly testwise students will use process of elimination to select answer
do NOT use to “pad out” the distracters because you cannot think of another one.
Advantages of Multiple Choice Items allow more adequate sampling of content. tend to more effectively structure the problem to be addressed items can be more efficiently and reliably scored than supply items different response alternatives can provide diagnostic feedback (item analysis)
items can be constructed to address various levels of cognitive complexity
Disadvantages of Mult.Choice Items difficult & time consuming to construct good items leads to emphasis on other selected response item types can lead the instructor to favour simple recall of facts high degree of dependence on student’s reading and instructor’s writing ability can be difficult to achieve clarity of expression measuring synthesis and evaluation can be difficult
inappropriate for measuring outcomes that require skilled performance