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Title: An evaluation of multiple-choice tests in an undergraduate nursing context : item analysis and lecturers' perspectives
Author: Haughian, Paddy
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 6630
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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Educators look for learning outcomes that will ultimately produce competent practitioners. Their assessment strategies therefore need to be consistent with these desired outcomes. The role of Higher Education Institutions is to implement ways of assessing learning to ensure that competencies are tested and standards met. The use of multiple-choice tests are one such assessment strategy. This thesis presents an evaluation of the use of multiple-choice tests as part of a framework of assessments. A mixed methods design was implemented. The quantitative phase examined banks of questions for: item difficulty; item discrimination; item writing flaws, non-functioning distractors and the balance of questions on each test in relation to course learning outcomes. In the qualitative phase, interviews were held with staff that wrote and developed the questions and examinations. The interviews focused on the extent to which staff were aware of, or followed, best evidence for implementing multiple-choice tests. The results reveal a position where, on the basis of psychometric analyses, the tests appear not to discriminate between students. The size of the item banks fall short of normal expectations and pass rates, considering normal assessment parameters, are extremely high. The study examined the need for staff to be trained in item-writing in order to improve the overall quality of test questions. The findings highlight the importance of examinations being subjected to a recognised standard setting methodology. The study is unique in that it is the first to use a mixed methods design in an undergraduate nursing context to explore how multiple-choice tests are constructed and used. The study demonstrated that appropriate analysis of student responses to assessment questions is a vital step in attempting to improve the quality of assessments as well as being of benefit for staff teaching and student learning. It also provides an opportunity to improve educational practice by exploring the broader relevance of the research to the field of assessment in third level education. The use of multiple-choice tests continues to attract political, social and organisational interest for a number of reasons including; reliability, validity and fitness for purpose. The study should therefore provide an original contribution to assessment research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available