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Topic: Multiple Choice Exam
Replies: 1   Last Post: Dec 29, 1993 5:58 AM

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Howard Lewis Penn

Posts: 34
Registered: 12/8/04
Re: Multiple Choice Exam
Posted: Dec 29, 1993 5:58 AM
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For the past couple of years we have been using a multiple choice portion of
the final exam. We have 43 sections of Calculus 1, each with about 20
students. The regular sections had 20 multiple choice questions. Ten of
these were also given to the reformed calculus sections. The 20 questions
counted 1/2 of the final with the other half comming from 10 longer
problems. In the reformed sections the multiple choice questions counted
1/4 the grade on the final. The reason that our department went to a
multiple choice portion of the final was to help maintain consistant grading
standards between different instructors. In the past we had large
differences between the grades given by different instructors. An
instructor who was giving mostly D's and F's but had high performance on the
multiple choice questions might rethink his or her grades. The same applies
to instructors whose grades were mostly A's and B's but whose students did
not do well.
Now for my personal opinion. I am very much opposed to multiple choice
final exams because they stress the wrong kind of learning. Students think
they can do well on an exam without really understanding concepts. This
last year many of the instructors started giving multiple choice questions
on the hour exams so that their students would be "ready for the final." So
this type of exam pervades the way the entire course is taught. On each of
the multiple choice exams I have seen students get the right answer with
completely wrong work. On this last exam one of the questions was to
determine the points of inflection of the function f(x)=x+sin(x). One of my
students got the right answer because pi is also a critical point. On last
year's calc II final there was a question to determine a limit which
happened to be 0. I saw several students get the right answer with
completely wrong work. On the other hand I had a student work a problem
completely correctly but he failed to mark his answer on the bubble sheet.
I have also had students work a derivative correctly then fail to notice
that the derivative was equivalent to one of the answers on the exam. The
exams are also being used as a way of comparing the teaching ability of
different instructors. This naturely leads to many instructors who teach
the exam rather than the course. I would be willing to have the multiple
choice portion count 1/4 the final but I feel that 1/2 is far too much. I
am forwarding this responce and your inquiry to our chairman who will give
you a totally different responce.

Howard Penn

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