Assessing by Multiple Choice Questions


Multiple choice question tests (MCQ tests) can be useful for formative assessment and to stimulate students' active and self-managed learning. They improve students' learning performance and their perceptions of the quality of their learning experience (see Velan et al., 2008).

MCQ tests are strongly associated with assessing lower order cognition such as the recall of discrete facts. Because of this, assessors have questioned their use in higher education. You can design MCQ tests to assess higher order cognition (such as synthesis, creative thinking and problem solving), but you must draft questions with considerable skill if such tests are to be valid and reliable. This takes time and entails significant subjective judgment.

Determine whether assessors are using MCQ tests for summative assessment for the ease of making them, or for solid educational reasons. Where MCQ tests are appropriate, ensure that you integrate them effectively into assessment design.

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