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ERIC Number: EJ1134202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Abstractor: As Provided
Does Correct Answer Distribution Influence Student Choices When Writing Multiple Choice Examinations?
Carnegie, Jacqueline A.
Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v8 n1 Article 11 2017
Summative evaluation for large classes of first- and second-year undergraduate courses often involves the use of multiple choice question (MCQ) exams in order to provide timely feedback. Several versions of those exams are often prepared via computer-based question scrambling in an effort to deter cheating. An important parameter to consider when preparing multiple exam versions is that they must be equivalent in their assessment of student knowledge. This project investigated a possible influence of correct answer organization on student answer selection when writing multiple versions of MCQ exams. The specific question asked was whether the existence of a series of four to five consecutive MCQs in which the same letter represented the correct answer had a detrimental influence on a student's ability to continue to select the correct answer as he/she moved through that series. Student outcomes from such exams were compared with results from exams with identical questions but which did not contain such series. These findings were supplemented by student survey data in which students self-assessed the extent to which they paid attention to the distribution of correct answer choices when writing summative exams, both during their initial answer selection and when transferring their answer letters to the Scantron sheet for correction. Despite the fact that more than half of survey respondents indicated that they do make note of answer patterning during exams and that a series of four to five questions with the same letter for the correct answer would encourage many of them to take a second look at their answer choice, the results pertaining to student outcomes suggest that MCQ randomization, even when it does result in short serial arrays of letter-specific correct answers, does not constitute a distraction capable of adversely influencing student performance.
Descriptors: Undergraduate Students, Student Evaluation, Multiple Choice Tests, Test Format, Test Items, Summative Evaluation, Computer Assisted Testing, Test Construction, Test Wiseness, Outcomes of Education, Self Evaluation (Individuals), Word Order, Student Surveys, Foreign Countries
University of Western Ontario and Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Mills Memorial Library Room 504, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L6, Canada. Tel: 905-525-9140; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.cjsotl-rcacea.ca/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada (Ottawa)
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A