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استاذ تكنولوجيا التعليم المشارك بكلية التربية بالزلفي

multiple-choice tests

E-assessment by design: using
multiple-choice tests to good effect
David Nicol*
University of Strathclyde, UK
Over the last decade, larger student numbers, reduced resources and increasing use of new
technologies have led to the increased use of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) as a method of
assessment in higher education courses. This paper identifies some limitations associated with
MCQs from a pedagogical standpoint. It then provides an assessment framework and a set of
feedback principles that, if implemented, would support the development of learner selfregulation.
The different uses of MCQs are then mapped out in relation to this framework using
case studies of assessment practice drawn from published research. This analysis shows the
different ways in which MCQs can be used to support the development of learner self-regulation.
The framework and principles are offered as a way of helping teachers design the use of MCQs in
their courses and of evaluating their effectiveness in supporting the development of learner
autonomy. A key message from this analysis is that the power of MCQs (to enhance learning) is
not increased merely by better test construction. Power is also achieved by manipulating the
context within which these tests are used.
Introduction
Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) are being increasingly used in higher education
as a means of supplementing or even replacing current assessment practices. The
growth in this method of assessment has been driven by wider changes in the higher
education environment such as the growing numbers of students, reduced resources,
modularisation and the increased availability of computer networks. MCQs are seen
as a way of enhancing opportunities for rapid feedback to students as well as a way of
saving staff time in marking. Computer networks enable more flexibility in the
delivery of MCQs (e.g. with delivery at times and places more in tune with student
needs) and, with appropriate software, they automate and speed up marking and the
collation of test results. Compared to paper-based MCQs, the use of online
computer-assisted assessment (CAA) can significantly reduce the

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