Teacher-made paper and pencil tests can be an effective method of assessing key knowledge, facts, skills and procedures. Carefully constructed, they can be used to assess more complex and challenging mental processes as well.
Paper and pencil tests require students to read or write independently or to demonstrate understanding of concepts at a symbolic level. By grade 3 or 4 most students have acquired the necessary skills and levels of conceptual development to demonstrate their learning using this method. Paper and pencil test may be gradually included as part of their overall assessment package. Observation and direct communication, however, continue to be the main methods of assessment throughout the early and formative years.
Kinds of Paper and Pencil Test Items
Brief tests that focus on important knowledge, basic skills or that require more complex and challenging mental processes are more useful to both students and teachers than lengthy, complicated tests. Tests can be constructed using any one or combination of the following kinds of test items.
Objective forms of test items usually have a pre-determined correct answer. Students are asked to select the correct or most appropriate response from the options given. Selected response include:
- multiple choice
- alternate response
These forms of tests tend to focus students on lower-order thinking skills and frequently require critical reading ability. It is recommended that teachers make limited use of this kind of test.
Short answer tests items require a brief answer. In some cases, there may be more than one acceptable response.
Extended response items refer to any writing assignment which requires more than a few words. Teachers must be prepared to accept a wide range of defensible responses.
Some test items provide a stimulus such as reading passage, map, picture, diagram, chart, concrete object(s), etc. as the basis for a student’s response. These items can be useful for testing higher level knowledge processes and inquiry skills which are not dependent on recall alone.
Examples of the test items described above are provided on the following pages. Teachers select and/or combine test items based on knowledge of their students’ skills, levels of experience and stages of development.
OBJECTIVE FORMS OF TEST ITEMS
Alternate response items require students to select from two possible answers. It is important that each question be clearly one response or the other. Alternate response items are prone to random guessing and should be used on a very limited basis.
Multiple choice items can be used to measure recognition, comprehension and application of a concept. Good multiple choice items are difficult to construct and should be used cautiously.
Matching items can test the understanding of terminology, factual relations and concepts.
SHORT ANSWER TEST ITEMS
Short answer test items require a brief answer. They may require the student to fill in a blank or complete a short statement, to do a brief calculation, to label a diagram, or to complete a table or chart.