Multiple Choice Tests and the Right/Wrong problem

The Washington Post the other day posted an insightful (if brief) discussion of multiple choice tests by Terry Heick. In it, the curriculum director at TeachThought does a nice job of identifying some of the aspects of learning that are ignored or implicitly devalued by multiple choice tests. Among these are the value of uncertainty, the importance of procedure and process, and the ultimately “fluid nature of information”. Interestingly, Heick manages to stay clear of the rhetoric that often plagues such observations—that teachers alone understand the value of true learning, and that administrators, politicians, and often students themselves relish the simpler, dichotomous approach—instead delivering a gentle, more holistic (if perhaps inertly diplomatic) overview.

One comment.

  1. The most serious disadvantage is the limited types of knowledge that can be assessed by multiple choice tests. Multiple choice tests are best adapted for testing well-defined or lower-order skills. Problem-solving and higher-order reasoning skills are better assessed through short-answer and essay tests. However, multiple choice tests are often chosen, not because of the type of knowledge being assessed, but because they are more affordable for testing a large number of students. This is especially true in the United States where multiple choice tests are the preferred form of high-stakes testing.

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