Solving The Conundrum Of Multiple Choice Tests


According to just published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, the answer — perhaps surprisingly — can sometimes be choice D. But it depends on how multiple choice questions are designed and deployed.

Here’s a hint: they shouldn’t just appear on the final exam.

Researchers have known for a long time that — by, for example, answering multiple choice or free-response questions — is more effective than repeatedly reviewing that material when it comes to remembering it one week later. They’ve also known that it’s better to spread out studying over a long period of time rather than cramming right before an exam. This sounds like a recipe for many short tests throughout a course rather than the one or two midterms and final exams with which we’re all familiar.

But how does this play out in actual classrooms to improve student learning? Are there benefits to incorporating multiple choice testing throughout the semester, perhaps with in-class or online quizzes or using newer “clicker” systems during lecture? And if there are benefits to repeated multiple choice testing, are they limited to memory for the specific content of the questions that were presented throughout the course, or do they generalize to related content?

The new paper, authored by Arnold L. Glass and Neha Sinha, reviews nine recent experimental studies that explore these questions in real classes, and the results are encouraging.

Read the whole story: NPR

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