2.2 Multiple choice items

The multiple-choice item consists of a problem and a list of a alternative solutions. The pupil responds by selecting the alternative that provides the correct or best solution to the problem. The incorrect alternatives are called distracters, because their purpose is to distract the uninformed pupil form the correct response. The problem can be stated as a direct question or an incomplete statement. In either case, it should be a clearly formulated problem that is meaningful without reference to the list of alternatives.

The multiple-choice form is extremely flexible and can be used to measure a variety of learning outcomes at the knowledge and understanding levels. Knowledge outcomes concerned with vocabulary, facts, principles, and methods and procedures all can be measured with the multiple-choice item. Aspects of understanding, such as the application and interpretation of facts, principle, and methods, can also be measured with this item type. Many other more specific uses occur in particular school subjects.

The main advantages of the multiple-choice item is wide applicability in the measurement of variousphases of achievement. It is also free of many of the limitations of other forms of objective items. It tends to present a more well-defined problem than the short-answer item does; it avoids the need for homogeneous material required by the short-answer item; and it reduces the clues and multiple-choice item is relatively free from response sets and is useful in diagnosis.Its limitations are mainly that it is a selection-type paper and pencil test and measures problem solving behavior at the verbal level only. Because it requires selection of the correct answer, it is inappropriate for measuring learning outcomes requiring the ability to recall, organize, or present ideas.The construction of multiple-choice items involves defining the problem in the stem of the item, selecting one correct or best solution, identifying several plausible distracters, and avoiding irrelevant clues to the answer. Items used to measure learning outcomes at the understanding level must also include some novelty.


(i)Gilbert sax (1989) defines.

“Multiple Choice items consist of two part: 4 stem and number of options, or alternatives. The stem is question or statement that is answered or completed by one of the alternative. All incorrect alternative are called distracters or foils and the I student’s task is to select the correct or best alternative from all the options”.

(ii)N.E. Gronlund (1985) defines

“A multiple-choice item consists of a problem and a list of suggested solutions. The problems may be stated as a direct question or an incomplete statement and is called the stem of the item. The test of suggested solutions may include words, number, Symbols, or phrases and are called alternatives (also called choices or options). The pupil is typically requested to read the stem and the list of alternative and to select the one correct or best, alternative”.(iii)R.L. Ebel & D.A. Frisbie (1986) define

“a multiple choice item has two parts: the stem consisting of a direct question or an incomplete statement and two or more options, consisting of answer to the question or completion of the statement”.If we go though these definitions we come to the conclusion that a multiple choice type test consists of the following characters

(a) One or more introductory sentences which are called stem.

(b) A list of three or more choices from which the examinee is required to choose the correct one. The suggested choices are called alternative, responses or options.

(c)All the choices should be plausible answer those who do not possess sufficient knowledge of the matter being evaluated.

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