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

Chapter 2
ON THE EQUIVALENCE OF THE TRAITS ASSESSED BY MULTIPLE-CHOICE AND CONSTRUCTED-RESPONSE TESTS

Ross E. Traub The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

The issue of psychometric equivalence of multiple-choice and constructed- response tests has been raised in one form or another from almost the day that multiple-choice items were first used to test human subjects ( Hogan, 1981; Traub & MacRury, 1990). Although a host of empirical studies on this issue has been reported during the last 70 years ( Hogan, 1981), many were seriously flawed in design and analysis ( Traub & MacRury, 1990). The present chapter is a review of nine relatively recent studies of trait equivalence. These investigations, better designed and conducted than many others, were examined for the purpose of (a) identifying the consistent findings, if any, produced by the investigations, and (b) deriving from a consideration of this body of work possible directions for future research.

Context is given the ensuing discussion by the answers to two questions: Which items qualify as constructed response and as multiple choice? And why the focus on trait equivalence to the exclusion of other kinds of equivalence (e.g., of difficulty or reliability)?

First is the matter of item-types. Following the typology of Bennett, Ward, Rock, and LaHart ( 1990; see also Bennett, this volume), a multiple-choice (M-C) item is narrowly defined as any item in which the examinee is required to choose an answer from a relatively small set of response options (e.g., four or five). The concept of constructed-response (C-R) item is defined relatively broadly in the present chapter to include any item that requires the examinee to compose an answer (as opposed to choosing among alternative answers given with the item). Possible types of C-R items range from those that can

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