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
8
ITEM FORMATS FOR ASSESSMENT IN MATHEMATICS

James Braswell

Jane Kupin

Educational Testing Service

Assessment provides indicators of educational success for a variety of purposes and audiences. The purposes include individual student evaluation, curriculum evaluation, and national assessment. The audiences include the individuals who are assessed, curriculum developers, educators charged with planning and decision making, and the public, in general, for reasons of efficiency and cost, most standardized examinations consist entirely of multiple-choice questions. Because scores on these examinations affect perceptions of individual and school success, attention is given toward preparing students to do well on them. Increasingly, standardized tests are being criticized for failing to provide an appropriate instructional target ( Shavelson , 1990).

In particular, multiple-choice examinations are frequently criticized because the task posed requires students to recognize a correct answer rather than to generate one. This criticism is in part true but it is more valid of certain questions and types of questions than of others. This chapter takes the position that multiple-choice questions are reliable indicators of student ability and achievement in mathematics, but that complementary formats can provide a more appropriate target for instruction. The use of multiple-choice items in mathematics testing is discussed first. Then, essay and short-answer questions ("construction" and "completion" in the Bennett, Ward, Rock, & LaHart, 1990, and Bennett, this volume, terminology), are considered. Finally, machine-scorable alternatives to standard multiple-choice items are introduced and findings from their use are presented.

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