Monday, February 21, 2011

KSP 619 - Advantages/Disadvantages of Completion & Essay Items

The following is a post to an assignment for KSP 619 -Using Technology in the Classroom. The advantages and disadvantages of completion and essay items are discussed and examples of each are given.
     Constructed-response items, such as the completion (or fill in the blank) and essay test items, are both popular formats for testing.  Although they are found to be not as desirable when using them in online assessments, due to the difficulty of automatically scoring these test items.  Although, there are advantages and disadvantages in utilizing both of these types of test item questions with our students.

     Important advantages for completion test questions can be that they are relatively easily constructed, many questions can be included in a single quiz or test, testing can cover many concepts,  intensive study where they must know the answer vs. recognizing the answer, minimizes guessing as compared to true and false or multiple choice items, a lot of vocabulary can be assessed in a minimal amount of time and more questions on test increases the generalizability of test scores and potentially their validity.

     Disadvantages to completion type test questions include that the knowledge assessed is limited to recall/knowledge level only (not higher level learning), scoring requires careful reading for unanticipated but correct answers, scoring is more laborious and time consuming and the questions over emphasize memorization of facts.

An example of a completion question that will be given to a 2nd grader after reviewing the parts of a book:

A person(s) who writes a story or a book is called a(an) _______________________.

     Including essay questions on tests can exhibit learners' unique ability to communicate ideas in writing and is the only test question type that can effectively assess all six levels of Bloom's Taxonomy - Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation.   Some other distinct advantages for essay test questions are that guessing is minimized, they meet the needs of the learning-oriented vs. grade-oriented student, less teacher preparation and they allow students to demonstrate their ability to organize their knowledge, express opinions and show originality.

     As with all types of test questions, there are also some disadvantages of essay questions, such as they are more time consuming for the students to answer and for the teachers to score. Other disadvantages to consider are that less content can be tested leading to decreased content validity and grading is subjective vs. objective.

An example of an essay test question after studying the Dewey Decimal Classification System.  The students are 6th graders and the subject was first introduced in 2nd grade.

Objective:  Students will explain the correct procedure for locating a book in the nonfiction section, using the Dewey Decimal Classification System.

Based on what you have learned, how would you explain The Dewey Decimal Classification system to a new classmate who needs to learn about libraries?

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