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Re: Multiple Choice Exam Questions #2

Some subscribers to ARN-L might be interested in a post titled "Re: Multiple Choice Exam Questions" [Hake (2010)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Karol Dean of the POD list asked: "Is there any research or folklore to support the 1 question/minute formula [for multiple-choice questions] that I've heard?"

To which Ken Bain replied: ". . . . . . multiple-choice questions that simply require the regurgitation of isolated information, or worse yet, the ability to recognize correct answers . . . tend to foster surface or strategic rather than deep approaches to learning. . . . .THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT YOU CANNOT DEVELOP MULTIPLE-CHOICE EXAMINATIONS THAT CAN FOSTER DEEP APPROACHES. Look, for example, at the way Eric Mazur develops what are basically multiple-choice questions for his Peer Learning approach. But that approach is embedded in an environment designed to promote deep considerations."

In this post I:

(a) quote psychmetricians Mark Wilson and Meryl Bertenthal in support of Bain's claim that "multiple-choice examinations that can foster deep approaches," and

(b) elaborate on the physics education environment in which Mazur came to desert the traditional passive student lecture for an "Interactive Engagement" method.

To access the complete 28 kB post, please click on

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands
President, PEdants for Definitive Academic References (PEDAR)

"In science education, there is almost nothing of proven efficacy."
Grover Whitehurst, former director, Institute of Education Sciences, USDE,
as quoted by Sharon Begley (2004)

"Physicists are out in front in measuring how well students learn the basics, as science educators incorporate hands-on activities in hopes of making the introductory course a beginning rather than a finale."
Stokstad (2001)

REFERENCES [Tiny URL's courtesy <http://tinyurl.com/create.php>.]
Hake, R.R. 2010. "Re: Multiple Choice Exam Questions #2," online on the OPEN! Net-Gold archives at <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Net-Gold/message/32417>. Post of 6 April 2010 17:57:00-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being distributed to various discussion lists and are also online at <http://hakesedstuff.blogspot.com/2010/04/re-multiple-choice-exam-questions-2.html> with a provision for comments.