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.
The multiple-choice item consists of two parts: (a) the stem, which identifies the question or problem and (b) the response alternatives.
For example, a professional item writer produces only 9-10 good multiple-choice items in a day's time.
Writing skills do affect a student's ability to communicate the correct "factual" information through an essay response.
For some instructional purposes one or the other item types may prove more efficient and appropriate.
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.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.In general, matching items consist of a column of stimuli presented on the left side of the exam page and a column of responses placed on the right side of the page.Students are required to match the response associated with a given stimulus.Consequently, students with good writing skills have an advantage over students who have difficulty expressing themselves through writing.Essays do not teach a student how to write but they can emphasize the importance of being able to communicate through writing.Following is a set of recommendations for using either objective or essay test items: (Adapted from Robert L. Collet, "An Empirical Comparison of the Effects of Recall and Multiple-Choice Tests on Student Achievement," Journal of Educational Measurement, vol. To further illustrate, several sample learning objectives and appropriate test items are provided on the following page.Ebel, Essentials of Educational Measurement, 1972, p. 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.Both objective and essay test items are good devices for measuring student achievement. For example, learning objectives requiring the student to demonstrate or to show, may be better measured by performance test items, whereas objectives requiring the student to explain or to describe may be better measured by essay test items.However, as seen in the previous quiz answers, there are particular measurement situations where one item type is more appropriate than the other. Paterson, "Do New and Old Type Examinations Measure Different Mental Functions? 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.e., testing what is supposed to be tested).