Thursday, June 03, 2004

Chapter 1/Question 13

13. Describe the thinking processes engaged by a short answer vs. a multiple-choice text question. Are the processes different? Are they assessing knowledge? Is that knowledge meaningful? Why or why not?

The thinking process engaged in order to answer a short answer style question requires the person to organize thoughts into correct grammar structure and provide the answer simultaneously. A multiple-choice question requires no organization of thought. At times, the test taker may have to use the process of elimination in order to choose an answer. However, the need to organize the answer into a sentence or series of sentences is not required with multiple-choice questions.

Yes, the processes are different. In multiple-choice questions, the answer is given. The test taker may not know exactly which answer is correct, but the answer is one of their choices. With short answer style questions, the test taker must know the answer and be able to write/key the answer in a way that makes sense to the reader and is grammatically correct.

Yes, both methods assess knowledge.

The knowledge may be meaningful. Meaningful knowledge means the person has thought through the learned material in order to solve or answer a problem. The problem may be one that can be given in a multiple choice style question.

As a general rule, multiple-choice questions are frowned upon by educators because they do not typically encourage "higher order thinking skills" whereas short answer questions more often to encourage such skills. However, multiple-choice questions can be written in a manner that encourages the student to think through a process or a series of facts in order to reach the answer. In a situation such as this, meaningful knowledge would be assessed in a multiple-choice style question.


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