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Re-Imagining Multiple Choice Tests

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Presentation on theme: "Re-Imagining Multiple Choice Tests"— Presentation transcript:

1 Re-Imagining Multiple Choice Tests
Keith Nickson M.S.W. Professor, George Brown College, Toronto 8th Annual ACESS Conference, Thunder Bay, On.

2 Some Thoughts on Teaching: c/o Chris Napper, Queen’s University
Surface or Rote Learning “Memorizing main points, has some value…but students are primarily motivated by a fear of failure.” Vs. Deep Learning “Incorporating new ideas with existing knowledge, and new experiences, changing the model I’m working with.” Heavy workload = surface learning

3 {Mr. Bloom’s Taxonomy} Remember Understand Analyze Apply Evaluate

4 MC tests mostly focus on…
Remembering: The lowest ‘order’ of learning How can we make the tests move up to ‘application’? Teaching S. Work = Integration of theory and practice = application, higher order of learning than mere remembering “Every learning activity, every evaluation should be designed to help our students practice the skills they will use in their jobs. Evaluations should match course outcomes.” Anne Vandevelde, M.Ed Curriculum Specialist George Brown

5 Knapper’s Ideas Research on College Teaching and Learning: ‘What We Know’ (2004)
Active Learning “The greatest responsibility of the teacher is not the communication of subject matter content, but the selection and design of appropriate learning tasks.” “Mastery and transfer are most effective when the tasks set closely replicate what the learner will encounter in life and work situations beyond the classroom.” Assessing Student Work “Assessment is most effective when it is done fairly frequently, when feedback is provided quickly, and is constructive… “To use assessments as a way of motivating students, the assignments need to be challenging enough to demand effort and creativity, while not so hard that students will give up prematurely.”

6 Do MC Tests Meet These Criteria
Do MC Tests Meet These Criteria? Do they reach into Bloom’s upper levels? A Manual for Authors of M. Choice Testbanks By David DiBattista, Brock U, 2008/3M Teaching Fellow (posted at Claim: ‘Not just memory being tested but also higher order cognitive processes’

7 M Choice Tests: Context
Most widely used objective assessment tool used in N. America Why are they popular? Quick, reliable, more questions can be answered, more material covered, marking not affected by handwriting, favoritism…& publishers supply them. Many students like them

8 Study by DiBattista How we view MC tests Is memory enough?
90% of faculty believed MC tests measured the ability to remember information Less than 50% think it measures higher order cognitive processes “If assessment tasks are to tap into higher order cognitive processes, students must not be able to rely on memory alone.”

9 A Couple of Questions… Can MC tests tap into ‘higher order’ learning processes? How can we make MC tests a learning experience as well as an evaluation of what’s been learned….. …In the way that essays, group assignments, presentations combine learning and demonstration of skills/knowledge?

10 Maryellen Weimer: Editor, The Teaching Professor
“With evaluation, we need to move from testing memory to a combination of testing and learning.” “Essays and group projects engage a range of learning processes, so doing MC tests in the same way makes them a richer experience.” “But always give students a rationale for doing MC tests differently.”

11 Maryellen’s Options 30 mins, do test alone
Put students into pairs or groups of 3 30 mins, do same test in pairs/groups Marking: Higher mark counts or: Combine divide by 2 Crib/cheat sheets OK for part of test

12 What Keith does… Students told to pair up ahead of time or choose to write test alone Students encouraged to work as a small study group to prep for test Cheat sheet sometimes 1st 30 mins alone 2nd 30 mins in pairs or alone Each student submits one scantron: they can disagree on a question

13 Other Options… Students use cheat sheets, work alone
Open book for 2nd half of test period Review Week Before: In groups, students write one MC question each based on one section of course/text and post Then go round room in their group, trying to answer each question using their text

14 The Benefits… Less cheating; students know they can chat in 2nd part
Incentive to work in small study groups, deepens learning and improves memory Choice: can work alone In pairs: students teach each other, debate the answers Allows for more ‘higher order’ questions, more case study, application questions & less straight memory work Focus less on stats/numbers, more on challenging concepts Questions can be more challenging Shift from memorizing to ‘deeper’ learning

15 What the Best College Teachers Do Ken Bain (2004)
“The outstanding teachers used assessment to help students learn, not just rate and rank their efforts.” “Not all teachers followed the same practices, but they often broke with convention…every act centers around and ultimately springs from a concern for student learning.”

16 Your ‘lower order’ MC Questions
#1. In DiBattista’s study, more than 50% of those surveyed said that MC tests have the potential to measure higher order cognitive processes. A. True B. False

17 #2. “The responsibility of the teacher is not to communicate information but to design learning tasks.” Who said this? A. Maryellen Weimer B. Chris Napper C. David DiBattista All of the above

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