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Brookhaven College employee newsletter: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Setting the Bar: A Best Practice

Setting the Bar: A Best Practice

Submitted by Delryn Fleming, English professor

Talk about applying new learning! Last spring Julie Perez, speech communication instructor, attended the workshop on “Writing and Aligning Multiple-Choice Test Items with Student Learning Outcomes” presented by Ron Carriveau, Ph.D. She went home and read his book, Connecting the Dots. Further thought about those all-important “first day” activities with students led Julie to design a multiple choice, 20 question quiz on her first day lecture over her syllabus.

Julie followed Carriveau’s suggestions to the letter! Each item stem was written as a question. Her test items had only three answer options and when appropriate, used parallel structure in each option. She made sure that only one of the answer choices was the absolutely correct answer. She used phrases such as “According to your instructor,…”

With the test items in mind, she carefully crafted her lecture. As she lectured, she told the students, “You should be taking notes on this information. There’ll be a quiz.” She reinforced the information with a list on her eCampus site of important items. The quiz was available between the second and third class days, over the weekend.

On the third class day, she returned with the results including the item analysis provided by eCampus. She found that more than 50% (11 items) were “good” and another 45% (9) were “fair” at Discrimination. The Discrimination Index “indicates how well the item discriminated between high and low scoring students. It is the difference of the High students endorsing the correct answer and the Low students endorsing the correct answer” (Carriveau 78). More important to the students, however, was how poorly they had performed. The average score was 13 out of 20 correct or 65%. Students recognized they had neither listened carefully to the lecture nor read the syllabus thoroughly. One student asked, “Dr. Perez, are all the tests going to be this hard?”

Third day and the bar is set.