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To use (or not to use) Multiple Choice Questions in assessing higher education students, that is the Question

Author Paul Dervan
Abstract The use of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) in assessing students in higher education has been criticised for a number of reasons. However, the ease at which these tests can be set up and administered using Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) along with their ability to provide rapid feedback to students, and coupled with the reality of increasing workloads for academic staff, merits an examination of the methodology and how it might be improved to address weaknesses of the approach.

This practice paper argues that the use of MCQs in higher education should not be summarily dismissed in favour of other assessment methods. In support of this argument, and using the Irish context as a backdrop, the author reports on academic workload trends and current usage of MCQs as an assessment mechanism; identifies criticisms of the methodology as well as students' perceptions of it. For educators looking to assure the validity of their assessment approach when choosing to use MCQs, the paper also identifies some practical remedies documented in the Literature to address perceived weaknesses of the approach.

The paper concludes with a summary of key findings and the author's reflection on further research that may inform improved assessment approaches for higher education students.

Keywords Assessment, Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs), Aiken Format, Critical Thinking, Deep learning, Surface learning, Negative Marking, Virtual Learning Environment.
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2017
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