Choosing Between Objective and Subjective Test Items There are two general categories of test items: 1 objective items which require students to select the correct response from several alternatives or to supply a word or short phrase to answer a question or complete a statement; and 2 subjective or essay items which permit the student to organize and present an original answer. Objective items include multiple-choice, true-false, matching and completion, while subjective items include short-answer essay, extended-response essay, problem solving and performance test items.
For some instructional purposes one or the other item types may prove more efficient and appropriate.
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To begin out discussion of the relative merits of each type of test item, test your knowledge of these two item types by answering the following questions. Test Item Quiz circle the correct answer 1. Essay exams are easier to construct than are objective exams. Essay exams require more thorough student preparation and study time than objective exams. Essay exams require writing skills where objective exams do not. Essay exams teach a person how to write.
Essay exams are more subjective in nature than are objective exams.
Objective exams encourage guessing more so than essay exams. Essay exams limit the extent of content covered. Essay and objective exams can be used to measure the same content or ability. Essay and objective exams are both good ways to evaluate a student's level of knowledge.
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TRUE Essay items are generally easier and less time consuming to construct than are most objective test items. Technically correct and content appropriate multiple-choice and true-false test items require an extensive amount of time to write and revise. For example, a professional item writer produces only good multiple-choice items in a day's time. According to research findings it is still undetermined whether or not essay tests require or facilitate more thorough or even different student study preparation.
TRUE Writing skills do affect a student's ability to communicate the correct "factual" information through an essay response. Consequently, students with good writing skills have an advantage over students who have difficulty expressing themselves through writing. FALSE Essays do not teach a student how to write but they can emphasize the importance of being able to communicate through writing. TRUE Essays are more subjective in nature due to their susceptibility to scoring influences. Different readers can rate identical responses differently, the same reader can rate the same paper differently over time, the handwriting, neatness or punctuation can unintentionally affect a paper's grade and the lack of anonymity can affect the grading process.
While impossible to eliminate, scoring influences or biases can be minimized through procedures discussed later in this booklet. Both item types encourage some form of guessing. Multiple-choice, true-false and matching items can be correctly answered through blind guessing, yet essay items can be responded to satisfactorily through well written bluffing. TRUE Due to the extent of time required by the student to respond to an essay question, only a few essay questions can be included on a classroom exam.
Consequently, a larger number of objective items can be tested in the same amount of time, thus enabling the test to cover more content. TRUE Both item types can measure similar content or learning objectives. Research has shown that students respond almost identically to essay and objective test items covering the same content. TRUE Both objective and essay test items are good devices for measuring student achievement. However, as seen in the previous quiz answers, there are particular measurement situations where one item type is more appropriate than the other.
Following is a set of recommendations for using either objective or essay test items: Adapted from Robert L. Ebel, Essentials of Educational Measurement, , p. Donald G. August 21, , When to Use Essay or Objective Tests Essay tests are especially appropriate when: the group to be tested is small and the test is not to be reused. Objective tests are especially appropriate when: the group to be tested is large and the test may be reused.
Either essay or objective tests can be used to: measure almost any important educational achievement a written test can measure. The matching of learning objective expectations with certain item types can help you select an appropriate kind of test item for your classroom exam as well as provide a higher degree of test validity i. To further illustrate, several sample learning objectives and appropriate test items are provided on the following page.
Learning Objectives Most Suitable Test Item The student will be able to categorize and name the parts of the human skeletal system. Essay Test Item Short-Answer After you have decided to use either an objective, essay or both objective and essay exam, the next step is to select the kind s of objective or essay item that you wish to include on the exam. To help you make such a choice, the different kinds of objective and essay items are presented in the following section of this booklet.
The various kinds of items are briefly described and compared to one another in terms of their advantages and limitations for use.
Also presented is a set of general suggestions for the construction of each item variation. Suggestions For Using and Writing Test Items Multiple-choice test items The multiple-choice item consists of two parts: a the stem, which identifies the question or problem and b the response alternatives. Students are asked to select the one alternative that best completes the statement or answers the question. The two methods include using self-review checklists and student evaluation of test item quality.
You can use the information gathered from either method to identify strengths and weaknesses in your item writing. When used, such alternatives were occasionally the correct response. However, CITL staff members will consult with faculty who wish to analyze and improve their test item writing. The staff can also consult with faculty about other instructional problems. Instructors wishing to receive the newsletter or to acquire CITL assistance can call the Measurement and Evaluation Division at Excellent Poor Yes, very challenging No, not challenging How well did examination questions reflect content and emphasis of the course?
Well related Poorlyrelated Lots ofthem Few if any The exams reflected important points in the reading assignments. Strongly agree Stronglydisagree Toodifficult Too easy Examinations mainly testedtrivia. Strongly agree Stronglydisagree Stronglyagree Strongly disagree Were exam questions worded clearly? Yes, veryclear No, very unclear Too long Too short Were the instructor's testquestions thought provoking?
Yes,adequately No, not enough V.
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Measuring educational achievement. Ebel, Robert L. Essentials of educational measurement. Gronlund, N. Measurement and evaluation in teaching. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co. Mehrens, W. Measurement and evaluation in education and psychology. Nelson, C. Measurement and evaluation in the classroom.
Measurement and Evaluation Division, Armory Building. Especially useful for science instruction. Payne, David A. The assessment of learning. Lexington, Mass. Heath and Co. Scannell, D. Testing and measurement in the classroom. New York: Houghton-Mifflin Co. Thorndike, R. Washington, D. Connect Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Contact Us citl-info illinois.
Privacy Cookie Settings. Essay items are generally easier and less time consuming to construct than are most objective test items. Writing skills do affect a student's ability to communicate the correct "factual" information through an essay response. Essays do not teach a student how to write but they can emphasize the importance of being able to communicate through writing.
Essays are more subjective in nature due to their susceptibility to scoring influences. Due to the extent of time required by the student to respond to an essay question, only a few essay questions can be included on a classroom exam. Both item types can measure similar content or learning objectives.
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Both objective and essay test items are good devices for measuring student achievement. The student will be able to critique and appraise another student's English composition on the basis of its organization. Multiple-choice test items The multiple-choice item consists of two parts: a the stem, which identifies the question or problem and b the response alternatives. For example, Sample Multiple-Choice Item a. When possible, state the stem as a direct question rather than as an incomplete statement.
Present a definite, explicit and singular question or problem in the stem. Eliminate excessive verbiage or irrelevant information from the stem. While ironing her formal, Jane burned her hand accidently on the hot iron. This was due to a transfer of heat be Which of the following ways of heat transfer explains why Jane's hand was burned after she touched a hot iron? Include in the stem any word s that might otherwise be repeated in each alternative.
In national elections in the United States the President is officially a. In national elections in the United States the President is officially chosen by a. Use negatively stated stems sparingly. Which of the following is not cited as an accomplishment of the Kennedy administration? Which of the following is NOT cited as an accomplishment of the Kennedy administration? Item Alternatives.
Make all alternatives plausible and attractive to the less knowledgeable or skillful student. What process is most nearly the opposite of photosynthesis? Make the alternatives grammatically parallel with each other, and consistent with the stem. What would do most to advance the application of atomic discoveries to medicine?
Remove the restriction on the use of radioactive substances. Establishing hospitals staffed by highly trained radioactive therapy specialists. Development of standardized techniques for treatment of patients. Training of the average doctor in application of radioactive treatments.
Removal of restriction on the use of radioactive substances. Addition of trained radioactive therapy specialists to hospital staffs. Make the alternatives mutually exclusive. The daily minimum required amount of milk that a 10 year old child should drink is a. What is the daily minimum required amount of milk a 10 year old child should drink? Be sure there is only one correct or best response to the item. The two most desired characteristics in a classroom test are validity and a.
Make alternatives approximately equal in length. What is the most general cause of low individual incomes in the United States? A lack of valuable productive services to sell. The population's overall unwillingness to work. The nation's increased reliance on automation. Undesirable: grammatical clue. Undesirable: verbal association clue. The reliability of a test can be estimated by a coefficient of: a.
Undesirable: connection between stem and answer clue. The height to which a water dam is built depends on a. Table of Contents True-False Test Items A true-false item can be written in one of three forms: simple, complex, or compound. Answers can consist of only two choices simple , more than two choices complex , or two choices plus a conditional completion response compound.
The acquisition of morality is a developmental process. Express the item statement as simply and as clearly as possible. Express a single idea in each test item. The second principle of education is that the individual gathers knowledge. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Avoid using negatively stated item statements. The Supreme Court is not composed of nine justices. Avoid the use of unfamiliar vocabulary.
According to some politicians, the raison d'etre for capital punishment is retribution. The Arctic and Antarctic regions are sparsely populated. Plants have no nervous system. Large coal beds exist in Alaska. There have been profound changes in the climate on earth. Coordination and integration of action is generally slower in plants than in animals.
All life comes from life and produces its own kind of living organisms. Use only homogeneous material in matching items. Directions: Match the following. Year of the 1st Nuclear Fission by Man. More information For Everyone. Type Advice guide. A review of the impact of shift work on occupational cancer - Full report Edited by:.
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