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2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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PST1F02:

Correlation between students' performance on free-response and multiple-choice questions
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Monday, Aug.1
  Time: 8:45 PM -9:30 PM
  Author: ShihYin Lin, University of Pittsburgh
412-708-0116, hellosilpn@gmail.com
  Co-Author(s): Chandralekha Singh
  Abstract: When it comes to assessing students' learning in physics, there is always concern about the format of the assessment tool. While a multiple-choice test provides an efficient tool for assessment because it is easy to grade, some instructors are concerned that a free-response format facilitates a more accurate understanding of students' thought processes. In addition, free-response questions allow students to get partial credit for displaying different extent of understanding of the subject tested. Here, we discuss a study in which two carefully designed research-based multiple-choice questions were transformed into free-response format and implemented on an exam in a calculus-based introductory physics course. Students' performance on the free-response questions was graded twice, first by using a rubric, and second by converting the answers back to one of the choices in the original multiple-choice format (which was not provided to the students). We found that there was an excellent match between the different free-response answers and the original choices in the multiple-choice questions. The strong correlation between the two scores graded using different methods suggests that carefully designed multiple-choice assessments can mirror the relative performance on the free-response questions while maintaining the benefits of grading and ease of quantitative analysis. This work was supported by NSF.
  Footnotes: None
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