Excerpt from Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide, Second Edition, by Linda Suskie
Five Tips for Writing Challenging Rather Than Trick Questions
- Use a test blueprint. It ensures that each item assess an important concept or skill.
- Make your tests open-book, open-note. Tell students they can bring to the test anything they like except a friend or the means to communicate with one. Using open-book, open-note tests forces you to eliminate items assessing simple knowledge that students can look up. Your test will include only items that assess deeper comprehension and thinking skills.
- Build items around common misconceptions. Many people, for example, think that plants get nutrients only from soil and water, not air; this misconception can become the basis of an effective botany test question.
- Create interpretive exercises. They assess thinking skills such as application and analysis.
- Evaluate your test results. Revise any misleading or unnecessarily difficult items before including them in another test.
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