GEURTS, F., 2001. An Alternative Way of Using Multiple-Choice Questions. Proceedings of the 5th CAA Conference, Loughborough: Loughborough University
At Wageningen University at the chemistry department we use an exam system with
pre-printed answers (de Keizer, 1981). The exam is made up of a number of items.
Each item is made up of a stem and a pre-printed amount of alternatives. There is no
limit to the amount of alternatives per item. These vary between 2 and 40. We get these
alternatives by following a number of solution routes from the stem. The chosen
solution routes are taken from the different ways in which students answer such
questions. Mostly all the answers (good, less good, wrong) we get in this way are
presented to the student. Students must answer the questions/problems as if they were
open questions. The exam consists of many problems designed in this way and
alternatives calculated in this way. The student marks his answer on a pre-printed
answer form. The correction of the exam takes place with the help of a key file in which
every answer can be marked. The full amount of marks is awarded for a correct
alternative. Wrong answers get zero marks. Some alternatives are also awarded (from
0.5 to nearly the maximum). The amount of marks received for an alternative is
corrected with a guessing score that has been determined by the sum of marks to be
awarded and the amount of alternatives. This is therefore a special form of weighed,
forced-guessing, multiple-choice examination.
With the help of a computer program the answer form of each student (read with the
help of an OCR apparatus) is compared with the key file. It takes a few minutes to get
the results of up to 1400 students and the analysis of items, results of the students and
the quality parameters are available from the computer program. The exam is composed by use of items already programmed in Excel. The solution
routes of all items are calculated in these Excel documents. The items can be used as
a source: changing a few parameters of the source item gives a new item with
corresponding new answers. Quality parameters (difficulty, discrimination) of the source
item are known and are a good estimate of the quality parameters for the “new” item.
Each Excel document is linked with a Word document. Pasting selected items in one
Word document makes a new exam. Again a special computer program is used to
finish the job.