Construction Versus Choice in Cognitive Measurement: Issues in Constructed Response, Performance Testing, and Portfolio Assessment

By Randy Elliot Bennett; William C. Ward | Go to book overview

PREFACE

The multiple-choice question is the mainstay of standardized testing programs in the United States. The format has achieved this position because it permits inexpensive and apparently objective scoring; because such questions can be answered quickly, allowing broad content coverage within a testing session; and because a sophisticated statistical technology has evolved to support the analysis and interpretation of test results.

The reliance on multiple-choice questions, however, is increasingly criticized. Many have argued that tests and, in particular, test formats significantly influence education. Multiple-choice assessments are said to encourage the teaching and learning of isolated facts and rote procedures at the expense of conceptual understanding and the development of problem-solving skills. It is believed that, for education reform to occur, the methods used to measure attainment must themselves be transformed.

To address the limitations of the multiple-choice format, many educators and psychologists have advocated increased use of constructed-response tasks. These tasks may be as simple as producing a numerical answer to an arithmetic question or as extensive as producing the numerous drafts that culminate in a finely honed essay or planning and conducting a series of scientific experiments. Proponents argue that constructed-response assessments, especially those that require extended problem solving and yield complex productions, measure different skills and promote deeper learning than do multiple-choice measures.

The use of such tasks, however, raises several critical concerns. If the an-

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