Effects of Question Formats on Student and Item Performance

September 14, 2016

Effects of Question Formats on Student and Item Performance

Recently, David Caldwell, Director of Professional Affairs, and Adam Pate, Assistant Professor, both from the University of Louisiana Monroe School of Pharmacy, discussed the common errors found in multiple-choice exam items, as well as statistical effects and improvement measures, in their webinar, “Effects of Question Formats on Student and Item Performance”

The key takeaways from the presentation include:

1. As a starting point, do some research and find a set of published item-writing guidelines to follow.

2. It’s far more important to provide a small amount of effective distractors vs, a large amount of ineffective distractors.

3. If you make a question more difficult, you need to be sure that you’re seeing an adequate increase in discrimination between higher and lower performing students.

The presentation gives insight into the struggles and successes involved with item writing. They also review published literature detailing the statistical effects of poor exam item quality on student performance.

“Our egos can get in the way sometimes, but you have to be able to be honest with yourself and admit that, as a faculty member, you could be doing a better job at writing exam questions.”

To view a PDF copy of the presentation, please click here.

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