The use of Multiple-Choice Questions for course assessment has been a controversial topic for many decades because of the significant evidence of its many disadvantages. Some of these include:
Current studies that are trying to improve this format by tackling some of these issues vary from studying hybrid MCQ approaches to studying the appropriate number of options in a question to studying the language and syntax of making the questions.
Research examining hybrid approaches to MCQ exams also vary. In addition to her own study, Kottke (2001) cited many studies (Dodd & Leal, 1988; Nield & Wintre, 1986) which have experimented with adding options for students to explain each of their answer choices.
Other research has focused on the trend toward building “confidence-level” question types into the traditional MCQ format (Klymkowsky, Taylor, & Spindler, 2006; Swartz, 2006; Wisner & Wisner, 1997). Swartz cited Hassman & Hunt, 1994; Bruno, 1986; Bruno, Holland, and Ward, 1988.
In her article, Swartz also illustrates this type with the following example:
A. 2.717 D. A or B G. I don’t know.
B. 3 E. B or C
C. 3.141 F. A or C
Where full credit is given for the correct answer and partial credit is given to students answering D, E, or G.
Studies focusing on the language and phrasing of MCQ’s note that students, in many cases, have a hard time understanding common disciplinary vocabulary and syntax that faculty aren’t even conscious of. Turner and Williams (2007) published a study that showed that vocabulary test performance “predicted performance on multiple-choice exams more strongly than pre-course knowledge and critical thinking”.
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Get Help. Additional article resources on developing and evaluating MCQ format tests include:
More Discussion. Patti Shank, PhD, CPT, a recognized instructional designer for online and blended courses, examined the different types of multiple choice questions in her 4-part series article on Better Multiple Choice Questions.
Tags: assessment, multiple choice
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