Small but impactful modifications to your current exams can lead to more meaningful assessment of student learning while maintaining the rigor and integrity of your course. Objective exams can adequately assess lower-level learning outcomes such as remembering and understanding but are less effective at assessing higher-level thinking, such as analyzing and evaluating. With this in mind, ask yourself the following questions to improve your objective exam(s).
Is the exam still assessing what you want?
Reexamine the course learning outcomes against the exam to make sure you’re assessing what you intended. For example, if a learning outcome is “Explain the steps of photosynthesis,” but this is being assessed by a multiple-choice question, you should modify the question so students are explaining, such as an essay question. See Choosing the right assessment for more about aligning assessments to learning outcomes.
Can you break down and spread out the content throughout the semester?
Each assessment is only a snap-shot of human behavior at one time. Therefore, you can get a more reliable measure of learning with multiple and varying assessments throughout the semester. Standard objective questions (multiple-choice, T/F, fill-in-the-blank, and matching) are effective in frequent, low-stakes quizzes to test for less complex learning outcomes, such as identify, define, and recognize.
How can the assessments build on each other?
Organize and sequence quizzes to parallel fundamental course concepts and related vocabulary from readings, lectures, and learning activities.
Would a question bank work well for your course?
Test banks are a way to reduce copying or sharing by assembling a different list of questions for each student quiz/exam. For example, when a student begins a Canvas Quiz that’s linked to a Question Bank, Canvas pulls and assembles a random list of questions from each Question Group in the Question Bank, so each quiz is unique. However, for question banks to be effective against cheating, you need a large pool of questions, which can require a great deal of effort to create. Consider working with a colleague to share questions and check if your department may also already have question banks for exams.