ERIC Number: EJ703794
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Mar-22
Reference Count: 7
Asking Essay Questions: Answering Contemporary Needs
Criswell, John R.; Criswell, Susan J.
Education, v124 n3 p510 Spr 2004
Essay questions have been a stable fixture of teacher assessment activity for decades. Assessment reforms of the early 90's encouraged the development and use of "newer" forms of assessment including portfolios, performance tasks, and authentic assessments. As of late, however, there appears to be a regressive emphasis toward the use of objective item formats, especially in the area of state-mandated testing (Darling-Hammond 2003). Despite shifts in assessment theory, the essay item format remained a credible and fundamental tool for assessing student achievement. Reasons for the tool's popularity derive from the question's ability to elicit richer information about student achievement than objective item formats, while at the same time, remaining easier to construct and employ than performance assessments. Given their widespread acceptance, an opportunity exists for educators to enhance the effectiveness of essay questions for use in contemporary classrooms. Assessment in today's classrooms is characterized by accountability pressures--the competing needs of developing higher order thinking, providing increased levels of feedback, and designing accommodations for students with exceptionalities. The purpose of this article is to show how the construction, scoring, and adaptation of essay questions can help address the needs of today's student populations.
Descriptors: Verbs, Essay Tests, Communication Skills, Academic Achievement, Student Evaluation, Objective Tests, Test Construction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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