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Assignment and Exam Design

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[edit] Exam/Test Construction

Before constructing the exam or test, it is a good practice to go over the objectives of the course and the kinds of information and skills emphasized in the course. The exam or test should reflect both the objectives and the content covered. At the beginning of the course, students should be made aware of the style(s) of exams they will be given and how often. There are certain criteria you can use in constructing a "good" exam. These criteria can help you organize the exam so that you will be able to gather the information needed to evaluate your students based on your predetermined objectives.

[edit] The criteria are the following

  • validity: does the test measure the objectives it is supposed to measure?
  • reliability: does the test provide the same results each time it is used? Are the items on the test related to one another?
  • discriminatory: will the test be able to discriminate between students who have mastered the material and those who have not?
  • triviality: are the items being evaluated only tangentially related to the central points of the course content?

Keeping these criteria in mind, you may want to refer to the different domains of instructional objectives for elaborating your questions. Once you have written your questions, classify them by category in order to identify the level of thought generated by the questions. Sometimes a slight change might produce a question which will require from students a higher level of thought.

[edit] A possible classification

  • memory: recall or recognition of information
  • translation: deciphering symbols or technical language
  • interpretation: discerning relationships among facts, generalizations, definitions, values and skills
  • application: ability to generalize notions, concepts and theories in order to solve problems
  • analysis: breaking down a problem with conscious use of defined forms of thinking
  • synthesis: solving problems by deduction
  • evaluation: judging alternative answers or options according to standards


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