Blueprints provide a framework for multiple choice tests so that each test question is linked to a knowledge, skill, or analytical learning outcome being assessed on the test. Constructing a multiple choice test that assesses thinking as opposed to rote memory is a challenge, but the payoff is a more challenging experience for students and a more useful assessment tool for the teacher.
Linda Suskie argues that:
- - Multiple-choice and matching questions can assess some kinds of thinking skills, including the abilities to apply and analyze
- - Well-designed multiple-choice questions give useful diagnostic information on where the student’s thinking went wrong;
- - Test blueprints – outlines of the learning goals covered by the test – are vital to planning effective multiple-choice tests;
- - Avoid using “all of the above” and “none of the above” as multiple-choice options;
- - Make multiple-choice tests challenging by making them open-book and open-note.
Suskie’s helpful suggestions about how to construct analytic multiple-choice tests are in Assessing Student Learning. A common sense guide,
2nd edition, which is available from the office of Cheryl Biel, Assistant Vice President for Academic Planning, Institutional Research, and Assessment. A web site that offers similar guidance is http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/Tools/TestPlanning/
, maintained by the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Pennsylvania State University.