Multiple Choice Assessment

Sometimes I think I should devote this blog entirely to my musings on assessment.  Here’s another:

Are multiple choice assessments good or bad?  Assuming that you can create good multiple choice questions, are they better or worse than other assessments?  I’ll start with my questions.  The ones that led me to these questions.

If most high stakes testing involves multiple choice questions, shouldn’t we be preparing students for those tests, but assessing in the same manner?  Or should we simply be trying to test to determine how well the students are understanding the material and whatever method works is fine?  How easy is it to make multiple choice tests that are either not simple “What color was the house that Jack built?” but also manage to not be so ambiguous that more than one answer is correct?

Other questions:  If educators are not asking questions like these, how effective are their assessments?  How do you know if the assessments you have developed are actually effective?  I worry about “closed system” instructors.  If you create the instruction, create the assessment, grade the assessment, and then send the student on their way, how can you possibly know how effective you are?  On the other hand, if you worry about standardized tests when you create your own assessments, aren’t you still working within a closed system and not worrying about the real world that students will be going to.

So, I don’t know if I have made the right test or not, or how much multiple choice should be part of the assessment or not, but I’m going to continue to work on it.

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.



  1. debryc said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I just wrote a post on multiple choice tests and this post came up under suggested posts by other wordpress users! See:

    My take on standardized tests are that strong end-of-year and interim assessments should be created by the district so that as a teacher, I have a strong exemplar to work from and a clear goal to reach.

    However, good educators don’t just stop there. Just as important are assessments of process, and not just content. For example, my goal is for my students to be able, by the end of the year, give a science presentation after completing independent research. It’s these assessments of process that are “real world”.

  2. October 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Good to hear from you Deb. I love your comment about assessments of process. To me, the process of learning is so much more important than the end result. But, how can you accurately assess process when everyone comes to an answer in a different fashion?

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