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Short-answer questions are similar to objective items in that a clearly-defined answer is required, but differ from the latter in that the answer has to be generated and supplied by the learner rather than chosen from a number of options provided.

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can have extremely high reliability, thus minimizing possible marker subjectivity. ď‚ž While short answer items often target knowledge or comprehension understanding, effectively developed completion items can also be utilized to assess application, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation levels. One means of measuring this type of higherorder understanding is to utilize combinations of short answer statements within a given paragraph. When implementing the paragraph format, be sure that desired knowledge is clearly specified.

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Easy to construct. Minimizes guessing Encourages more intensive study-student must know the answer vs. Recognizing the answer. Short-answer tests are also fairly simple to administer and mark. Effective as either a written or oral assessment. Effective for assessing who, what, where, and when information.

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May overemphasize memorization of facts. Take care – questions may have more than one correct answer. Scoring is laborious. they are not particularly well suited for testing some types of highercognitive and noncognitive outcomes Not suitable for itemanalysis Often criticized for encouraging rote memorization

When using with definitions: supply term, not the definition-for a better judge of student knowledge.  For numbers, indicate the degree of precision/units expected.  Use direct questions, not an incomplete statement.  If you do use incomplete statements, don´t use more than 2 blanks within an item.  Arrange blank to make scoring easy.  Try to phrase question so there is only one answer possible.  Do instructions clearly specify the desired knowledge and specificity of response?  Is there only one clearly correct answer? 

Completion items ď‚ž In their simplest form, these consist of incomplete statements, the learner having to supply the missing words, terms, symbols, etc. Four typical examples are shown below. ď‚ž Example 1 (a simple completion item that only requires a single answer to be provided) 1. How you call a person who studies space? (answer: astronomer)

ď‚ž Completion

items can also be built round things like tables, maps, diagrams, drawings and photographs, with the learner again having to supply missing pieces of information.

ď‚ž These

take the form of actual questions (or instructions that imply questions), with the learner having to supply the answer(s). Such items can themselves take a wide range of forms, some of the possibilities being shown below.

Example 2 (a similar question that requires more than one answer) 'Name the three basic branches of government.' ________






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are similar to unique-answer questions except that they allow for some variation in the nature of the answer, either in terms of its intrinsic content or in terms of the way in which it is expressed. ď ś Example 1 (a question that has several acceptable answers) Two planets that have rings are ___________ and ________________. (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune)

Example 2 (a similar question that requires slightly longer answers) 'Outline four fundamental differences between the systems of government of the United States of America and the United Kingdom'. (Possible answers might include: The USA's head of state is a president while that of the UK is a constitutional monarch; the USA has a federal structure while the UK has not; in the USA, the executive and legislative arms of government are separate, while in the UK they are not; the upper legislative house in the USA is elected whereas that in the UK is not; the USA has a written constitution whereas the UK has not; the USA has a supreme court whereas the UK has not) ď ś

Like objective questions, they are of limited use in testing non-cognitive skills such as communication skills, interpersonal skills and psychomotor skills. Thus, the first thing that anyone thinking of making use of short-answer questions should do is check that the learning outcomes that it is wished to assess are in fact suited to this form of assessment; if they are not, some other assessment technique should be employed.

The most common method of evaluating a short-answer question (or, more usually, a test composed of such questions) is to have it checked by a colleague or validation panel. In order to enable such an evaluation to be carried out in a meaningful and systematic way.

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a short answer item an appropriate assessment of the learning objective?  Does the content of the short answer question measure knowledge appropriate to the desired learning goal?  Is the item clearly worded and stated in language appropriate to the student population?  Does the positioning of the item blank promote efficient scoring?


Short-answer questions are similar to objective items in that a clearly-defined answer is required, but differ from the latter in that the a...