By Norman E. Gronlund

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Additional resources for Constructing Achievement Tests, 2nd Edition

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If the test is to be criterion-referenced, item difficulty is determined by the difficulty of the learning tasks described in the specific learning outcomes. If the test is to be norm-referenced, item difficulty is deliberately altered in order that a wide spread of test scores may be obtained. These different approaches to item difficulty constitute one of the major distinctions between criterion-referenced and norm-referenced testing. Since a criterion-referenced test is designed to describe the specific learning tasks a n individual can and cannot perform, item difficulty should match the difficiilty of the task.

Essay qiiestions are generally reserved for measiiring the more complex learning outcomes, where the difficulties in scoring are offset by the importante of the outcomes and by the uniqiie responses that can be called forth by siich questions (the ability to create, the ability to organize, and so on). Selecting the Type of Objective Test Item to Use There are two major considerations in selecting the specific type of test item to use. The first is the nature of the learning outcome. As we noted earlier, a test item should measure the learning outcome as directly as possible, and this frequently dictates a specific item type.

Poor: The paucity of plausible, but incorrect, statements that can be related to a central idea poses a problem when constructing which one of tlie following types of test items? A. Short-answer. B. True-false. *C. Multiple-choice. D. Essay. Beller: The lack o£ plausible, but incorrect, alternatives will cause the greatest difficulty wlien constructing: A. sliort-answer items. B. true-false items. 'C. multiple-choice items. D. essay items. Another common fault i n stating multiple-choice items is to load the stem with irrelevant and, thus, nonfunctioning material.

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