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Studies1 by Sax & Collet (1968) and Paterson (1926) conducted forty-two years apart reached the same conclusion: "...there seems to be no escape from the conclusions that the two types of exams are measuring identical things." (Paterson, p.246) This conclusion should not be surprising; after all, a well written essay item requires that the student (1) have a store of knowledge, (2) be able to relate facts and principles, and (3) be able to organize such information into a coherent and logical written expression, whereas an objective test item requires that the student (1) have a store of knowledge, (2) be able to relate facts and principles, and (3) be able to organize such information into a coherent and logical choice among several alternatives. Essay tests are especially appropriate when: In addition to the preceding suggestions, it is important to realize that certain item types are better suited than others for measuring particular learning objectives.
Following is a set of recommendations for using either objective or essay test items: (Adapted from Robert L. Collet, "An Empirical Comparison of the Effects of Recall and Multiple-Choice Tests on Student Achievement," Journal of Educational Measurement, vol. To further illustrate, several sample learning objectives and appropriate test items are provided on the following page.
Ebel, Essentials of Educational Measurement, 1972, p. After you have decided to use either an objective, essay or both objective and essay exam, the next step is to select the kind(s) of objective or essay item that you wish to include on the exam.
On the other hand, statements using qualifying determiners such as "usually," "sometimes," "often," etc., are likely to be true.
When statements do require the use of specific determiners, make sure they appear in both true and false items.
To help you make such a choice, the different kinds of objective and essay items are presented in the following section of this booklet.
The various kinds of items are briefly described and compared to one another in terms of their advantages and limitations for use.For some instructional purposes one or the other item types may prove more efficient and appropriate.To begin out discussion of the relative merits of each type of test item, test your knowledge of these two item types by answering the following questions.Students are asked to select the one alternative that best completes the statement or answers the question.For example, Use the alternatives "none of the above" and "all of the above" sparingly.When used, such alternatives should occasionally be used as the correct response.Table of Contents A true-false item can be written in one of three forms: simple, complex, or compound.Both item types can measure similar content or learning objectives.Research has shown that students respond almost identically to essay and objective test items covering the same content.Consequently, students with good writing skills have an advantage over students who have difficulty expressing themselves through writing.Essays do not teach a student how to write but they can emphasize the importance of being able to communicate through writing.