Developing and Validating Multiple-Choice Test Items

Developing and Validating Multiple-Choice Test Items

Developing and Validating Multiple-Choice Test Items

Developing and Validating Multiple-Choice Test Items

Synopsis

This revised volume offers a discussion of writing effective multiple-choice test items and studying responses to items to evaluate and improve these items. Important for graduate-level students and others interested in cognitive testing.

Excerpt

This book is about writing effective multiple-choice (MC) test items and studying responses to items to evaluate and improve them. These two topics Tare two very important steps in the development of many cognitive tests. Two factors contributed to the writing of this book. the first is that although statistical theories of test scores are very well developed and understood, mc item writing and validating mc item responses are the least developed among the many activities in testing. Textbooks on testing provide information on mc item writing and item analysis, but typically these sections are brief and not linked to existing theory or research. Volumes devoted solely to mc item writing and validation are rare. Several writers have commented about the lack of research on item writing (e.g., Cronbach, 1971; Haladyna & Downing, 1989a, 1989b; Nitko, 1985). Thus, there is very little information to guide item writing practices. With item response validation, the study of item responses will very likely become more complex according to Wainer (1989), which will both increase and challenge us to better understand the dynamics of item responses for improving mc items.

Another reason for writing this book is the background provided by more than 25 years of experience in testing. I have been fortunate to have been involved in a variety of test development activities and research on testing in a variety of settings that included large-scale educational assessments in reading, writing, and mathematics, and also licensing or certification tests in accountancy, dietetics, emergency medicine, medical specialties (such as facial plastic surgery, hand surgery, cosmetic surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology), nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry. During this period, I also had the opportunity to help the U.S. Army in the evaluation of its Skill Qualification Tests used in their various training programs, including military police, military intelligence, aerial reconnaissance, chemical warfare, and rocket launch systems. To add to these experiences, teaching graduate students and undergraduates in teacher training has enriched my perspective about the need for more effective item writing and the validation of responses. This book draws from these experiences and the extant theory, research, and technology available.

Intended Audience

This book is intended for anyone seriously interested in cognitive testing. Students in graduate-level courses in educational measurement or testing may find this book helpful for better understanding these two critical phases of testing.

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