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High school MATH AND BUS TEACHER IN KENYA 12 YEAR EXPERIENCE

My opinion against use of

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My opinion against use of Multiple choice tests in mathematics is growing stronger by the day. I have observed that many primary school leavers at grade 8 score average (50%) or above average marks in KCPE (Kenya Certificate of Primary education) but in high school they score less than 25% in most of the secondary school mathematics tests.

There seems to be one of the main reasons for this mismatch in mathematics achievement. Primary school examination is offered purely in multiple choice format while at secondary school level it is purely in open ended (constructed response) format.

It may be very critical to familiarize pupils with open ended tests at primary school level to avoid emphasis on LOTS (lower order thinking skills) without HOTS (higher order thinking skills). I am very touched by the blogger's ideas on this topic and really appreciate the rich comments which followed.

The 21st century information swing may be a turning point towards modern development of mathematics theories. I am not happy with the slow pace of formulation of new mathematics theories. I believe our instructional processes as well as assessment regimes may be contributing immensely to the down turn. Multiple choice tests appear to make life a simple range of ready made choices. This is not reality. I wish to scrutinize the MCT in mathematics.

Teacher of Classical Humanities at Lyceum (High School) from Bologna, Italy

Hi to everybody. I'm Italian

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Hi to everybody.
I'm Italian teacher and I'd like to show what's happening in Italian schoolastic system. Here, the multiple choice test is considered a limiting factor and it's not many proposed at students.
We prefer to give test with an "open" answer, 'cause for us it's essential to verify the correctness of subjects and the ability of the way of expressing. I teach subjects as ancient greek, latin, italian literature, history: so, for me, it's necessary that my students learn to ponder, to correlate and one, quick answer for me is useless. Unfortunately, Italian School Departement started with a new national examination, structured by multiple choice test: I think this is a bad deviation and impoverishment of knowledge. Sure, multiple choice test is not absolute evil: it's a convenient tool to prove some precise element. But a big problem here in Italy is the gradual depletion of language (both in lexicon and grammary). Maybe it's better to reinforce this fondamental competence. Sorry for my orrible English.j

MC for science classes

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Obviously, MC tests aren't perfect for assessing all kinds of skills, but they can be quite good for testing concrete knowledge and critical thinking especially in science classes. (As an aside, it's a huge mistake to devalue memorized facts. In some subjects the number of facts you need to memorize and hold in your head before you can do any "advanced" problem solving is massive.) The main problem with non-MC tests is that they allow for a great deal of ambiguity, which has its place, but can be terrible for assessment because that ambiguity allows students to talk around an answer they don't really know and introduces huge biases in grading.

Stick to the Topic Dragonswing

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Dear Dragonswing,
Just an FYI. When you want to criticize a commenter for "degrading someone," it's probably not wise to begin your reply with a comment that degrades someone. And seriously, in a discussion thread about multiple choice testing you're lamenting the loss of cursive writing and check writing in 2013? Believe me, I'm glad I don't teach your children because parent teacher conferences would be a nightmare.

From your comment, I am glad

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From your comment, I am glad my children do not have you as a teacher. Instead of offering some kind of solution, you only degrade someone for their opinion. If you ask me, teaching needs to get back to the basics---like learning to write. It is a shame that today's children are not taught cursive writing. How are they to read documents (as in historical since nowadays I doubt if any are actually written), sign a contract, write a check?

Middle School Librarian, Sheldon ISD, Houston, TX

Another problem I see with

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Another problem I see with multiple choice testing is that test designers seem to go great lengths to confuse students by offering "wrong" choices as possible answers that have some truth or "correctness" to them. Test-taking then becomes more of a test to recognize wrong information rather than knowing right information. I believe that this circumstance invalidates many such tests, at least to some degree.

Editorial Assistant and Blogger

Pithy Blog!

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My thinking about this subject has been elevated. Just pointing to a right answer is reductive and the wrong message to send in the post-"There are WWMDs" world.

Math Mom & Education Advocate

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Your points are so on target, Terry. And two of them mesh really well to make another one.

You wrote, "There have been enough studies done to show that a well-written multiple-choice question actually measures understanding fairly well."

And, "Texts are now merged with moving images, hyperlinked, designed to be absorbed into social media habits, and endlessly fluid."

These two statements lead me to think: because information is so fluid (getting created fast and by so many) the people who have the SKILLS to properly write multiple-choice questions that will measure understanding are not the same people who ARE writing the questions!

I know that my multiple-choice question writing skills are very poor - and yet I've been hired to do it. Not just in academia, either - in the oil and gas industry where "understanding" can mean the difference between life and death.

I avoid those test questions like the plague. I hope someday they can be as frowned upon as cigarettes. (Which were once cheap and cool - like MC questions are these days!)

Thanks for helping the revolution along!

Retired Principal

One last comment to a

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One last comment to a spirited discussion, most of it "piling on" about standardized testing. Yes, standardized testing is flawed. As are most of the "best practices" in education. But useful, efficient and easy to score. Should it be the only means of assessment? Of course not. But it is about making choices, and has a degree of validity that seems to escape many of the participants in this discussion. Discard all multiple choice tests? I say NO. Use them with caution. That's all folks!

Educator, Consultant, ADE , ClassTechTips.com

I love having students show

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I love having students show their understanding. It doesn't replace standardized tests but should definitely be considered a form of assessment: http://wp.me/p2qsME-b3

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