Friday, March 2, 2012

Trickster or Teacher?

Currently in my Educational Measurments and Assessments class we are discussing how to create an assessment, using multiple choice, True/False, or short answer. While we were discussing when to use True/False questions, we also started talking about how accurate these types of questions really are when assessing students. Truthfully I have never been a fan of the True/False portion of a test. Yes, you get a fifty/fifty chance if you don't know the answer, but I always find myself second guessing each question I read and second guessing every answer I put down. I always feel as though the teacher is tricking me in some way, one little word in the whole question can make the statement switch from true to false. Honestly, I feel that at times teachers do indeed throw in the smallest incorrect portion forcing students to feel "tricked" instead of actually assessing how much the student has learned. We also talked about how it is so simple to lead students to pick an answer knowing absolutely nothing about the subject. By including words like "absolutely" or "never" students are more likely to pick false because it is an absolute, and all they need is one example of where this statement is proven wrong, therefore wasting time trying to prove the statement wrong rather than taking the actual test. By including words like "should" or "might" these students are more likely to pick true, and even if they get it wrong, can try to argue the answer.

Don't get me wrong, I think if done carefully a True/False portion of the test may be able to assess your students, but really how do you know if they really knew the answer or they just guessed? We talked about different ways of getting around this problem and my favorite to use when creating a True/False portion of a test is having a portion of the statement underlined and then asking the student to correct the underlined portion if they feel the statement is incorrect.

For instance, given the simple statement:
2 + 2 = _5_                   True    False__________

The student would circle False and then simply put "4" in the blank space.

I'm still not a huge fan of the True/False questions and honestly don't see myself using this very much in my own classroom. Anyone disagree?


  1. I feel like I am in this class with you and do agree that certain teachers misuse the true/false portions of tests. I am really glad that our teacher brings up these points, like wording and students' thought processes, for us to be aware of when we have our own classrooms. You bring up some good points and I am definitely wary about using it on my own tests, especially for English. With what we will be teaching, I think they will be better ways to test our students that doesn't include "trickery".

  2. I completely agree with you. I have been in classes where I would purposely circle the answer that I thought was wrong because it was always a trick. Personally, I think I'll use short answer questions, essays, and papers for the majority of my assessments.