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The number of alternatives can vary among items as long as all alternatives are plausible. Plausible alternatives serve as functional distractors, which are those chosen by students that have not achieved the objective but ignored by students that have achieved the objective.
There is little difference in difficulty, discrimination, and test score reliability among items containing two, three, and four distractors.
Avoid complex multiple choice items, in which some or all of the alternatives consist of different combinations of options. Keep the specific content of items independent of one another. Savvy test-takers can use information in one question to answer another question, reducing the validity of the test.
Finally, designing alternatives that require a high level of discrimination can also contribute to multiple choice items that test higher-order thinking.
Additional Resources Burton, Steven J. Guidelines for University Faculty, Cheung, Derek and Bucat, Robert.
How can we construct good multiple-choice items?
Developing and validating multiple-choice test items, 2nd edition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Validity of a taxonomy of multiple-choice item-writing rules.
Applied Measurement in Education, 2 1, Morrison, Susan and Free, Kathleen. Writing multiple-choice test items that promote and measure critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Education Dartmouth Writing Program support materials - including development of argument.
Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing. Mind Mirror Projects: A Tool for Integrating Critical Thinking into the English Language Classroom (), by Tully, in English Teaching Forum, State Department, Number 1 Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Project, Metropolitan Community College.
Center for University Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. CUTLA facilitates the efforts of faculty and academic units to develop and sustain practices that promote the highest quality of teaching and learning.
Second Language Writing and Research: The Writing Process and Error Analysis in Student Texts. Johanne Myles Queen's University. Multiple choice test questions, also known as items, can be an effective and efficient way to assess learning outcomes.
Multiple choice test .
To advance and accelerate campus initiatives to enhance student learning, the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and Lumina Foundation are pleased to offer a practical, useful resource to improve student learning and assessment processes and practices at your institution - NILOA Coaches.
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