Chapter 02: Learning from the Test: Dos and Don'ts for Using Multiple-Choice Tests

Title

Chapter 02: Learning from the Test: Dos and Don'ts for Using Multiple-Choice Tests

Editors

Mark A. McDaniel, Regina F. Frey, Susan M. Fitzpatrick, & Henry L. Roediger III

Files

Link to Full Text

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Description

Multiple-choice tests are ubiquitous in the classroom; while typically used for assessment, our focus in this chapter is on how such tests can also serve as learning opportunities for students. We review evidence from cognitive psychology that multiple-choice tests can change what students know, helping them to remember forgotten information, boosting retention of recently learned information, and even promoting new learning. However, the educator needs to exercise care when using multiple-choice tests, because by definition multiple-choice questions pair correct answers with plausible but incorrect lures. That is, multiple-choice testing can also yield a negative testing effect, whereby prior exposure to multiple-choice questions boosts the likelihood that students will use multiple-choice lures to answer later general knowledge questions. We evaluate a number of solutions to this problem, with the goal of maximizing the benefits and minimizing any costs of multiple-choice testing. While a number of possible solutions involve changes to test construction (e.g., changes to the plausibility and number of lures), the best solution turns out to be a simple one: educators should make sure to tell students the correct answers after they complete the multiple-choice test. We conclude with a discussion of future directions for research, with an emphasis on the need for additional studies in classroom settings.

Document Type

Chapter

DOI

10.7936/K7Z60KZK

ISBN

978-1-941823-00-2 (MOBI), 978-1-941823-01-9 (ePub), 978-1-941823-02-6 (PDF)

Publication Date

9-10-2014

Publisher

Washington University Libraries

City

Saint Louis

Disciplines

Cognitive Neuroscience | Cognitive Psychology | Educational Psychology | Engineering Education | Higher Education | Higher Education and Teaching | Science and Mathematics Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Comments

Chapter 2, Integrating Cognitive Science with Innovative Teaching in STEM Disciplines. Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7936/K7Z60KZK. Link to complete book available at: http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/books/9/

Complete book available for purchase through Amazon and Apple. For information about alternative versions, please contact digital@wumail.wustl.edu.

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Chapter 02: Learning from the Test: Dos and Don'ts for Using Multiple-Choice Tests

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