Exam_Guide - 1Why are the exams multiple-choice only? The...

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1Why are the exams multiple-choice only? The main reason is class size. This is the only format that allows me to test the depth and breadth of knowledge of so many students in a reasonable time. However, psychologists and educators have studied exam formats and multiple-choice questions are a reliable and valid method of testing. In smaller classes where I use multiple-choice and written questions, there is a strong, positive correlation between the scores on both formats (see Learning Objective 4 for Module 3 and Learning Objective 7 for lectures for information on correlations). The bottom line: if you know the material, the type of question is irrelevant; you can answer any question in any format. What if I don’t like multiple-choice questions? There are some effective strategies described below. It might also be helpful if you know how the questions are designed . .. so read on. How are the exams and questions constructed? I begin with the “Overview of Exams” that is included in the course syllabus. That shows me how many questions there will be for each topic and how they will be split between text and lecture material. Next, I decide how many questions will be “difficult,” “moderate,” and “easy.” I will have an equal number of each. On the midterm, for example, there will be about 25 of each. My objective is to design a test that will distinguish among the students. Easy questions should distinguish between students who have done little or no work and those who have read the text carefully and attended lectures. The moderate and difficult questions should further measure the amount of effort and cognitive abilities among students who have studied the text and lecture material. Let me use some actual examples. There will 14 questions on the midterm drawn from the Development topic. I’ll use textbook examples because you’ll have that material readily available (the procedure is the same for lecture material). Nine of those will cover text material so I decide to have 3 easy, 3 moderate, and 3 difficult questions. The readings also consist of 3 modules and I will want to distribute the questions across all of these. I begin by looking at the 14 learning objectives for these modules (4 for module 8, 12 for module 9, and 8 for module 10). I only have 9 questions so I have to pick 9 of the 14 learning objectives. There’s no special method of deciding which ones to include and which ones to exclude. I consider all of the learning objectives as equally important and equally available for testing. I might, for example, have questions for all 4 objectives from module 8, 5 from module 9, and none from module 10. Once I have decided which learning objectives to test, I begin by designing the easy questions. Imagine that I have selected objective 3 from module 8 and I focus on “the destructive impact of teratogens.” I examine the relevant material on page 136. There are now 2 types of questions that I can ask. I can design a “factual/definitional”
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Exam_Guide - 1Why are the exams multiple-choice only? The...

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