#EDEN14 Student and staff perceptions of the use of multiple choice testing in higher education assessments


Kay Penny, Edinburgh Napier University

Study into multiple choice questions as part of assessment strategy in HE, set against context of widening access, adult learners, prior learning experiences, international students, etc.

MCQs give a quick and easy response, but how effective is this as a way of assessing student learning and deeper understanding? Students with low motivation do tend to like the MCQ format and using this format seems to lead to improved performance. This study looked at how staff and students felt about use of MCQs for distance based study within a business school. Common set of qus for staff and students but with some qus specific to each group. Response rate for staff about 1/4, higher for students (more women, average age <30). Most student u/g reponders had experience of using MCQs, almost half of p/g students. Conclusions from students: using MCQ testing was more negative for p/g students although u/g students generally enjoyed this means of testing. U/g students thought it was a useful way of testing knowledge and understanding, less at p/g level. V low levels thought it was useful for oral and written skill testing.

Staff felt more strongly that MCQ is a dumbing down approach, although still a minority if overall response. Only other key differences, v few staff felt that it was a valid response for assessing effectively and few staff assumed that students would enjoy this approach as a way of testing (as opposed to students who actually rated it higher).

main themes, MCQ a good way to support learning, eg revision, questions need to be constricted carefully, suitability at HE – perhaps promotes shallow learning rather than deeper understanding. 

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About sharonslade

Dr Sharon Slade is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law at the Open University in the UK working to support both tutors and students on Open University distance learning modules and programmes. Her research interests encompass ethical issues in learning analytics and online learning and tuition. Project work includes the development of a student support framework to improve retention and progression and the development of a university wide tool for tracking students and triggering relevant and targeted interventions. She led the development of new policy around the ethical use of learning analytics within the Open University, UK.
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