Basic Guidelines for Developing Teacher-Made Tests By Greg Conderman Most teacher-made tests can be placed into the following categories. I. Supply (recall) A. B. C. D. Completion (fill in the blank) Short Answer Essay Listing II. Selection (recognition) A. Multiple Choice B. Matching C. True/False Teacher Made Tests 1. Time Considerations Elementary level (5-30 minutes) Secondary (50-60 minutes) 2. Items M/Choice (allow 1 per minute) Fill in the blank (allow 1 per minute) Short answer (depends on response desired) True/False (2 per minute) 3. Response Format Consider level of students Consider objective (recognition, recall) Make it clear, easy, straight forward Clear response---increase validity and reliability 4. Scoring Format Make it easy to correct and score Consider checklists based on specific outcomes Consider using charts/graphs Recommendations Developing Teacher Made Tests Supply-type A. Completion Items (Fill-in-the-blank) Put blanks at the end of the sentences to provide meaningful context for the reader. Poor Item: The _______is the most frequently used score to report “averages.” Better Item: The most frequently used score to report “averages” is the ______. Write statements that allow only correct answers. Make it clear to the student what information you are seeking. Therefore, the question must be very specific. Poor Item: The capital of Illinois is _______. Better Item: The name of the capital city of Illinois is _______. Don’t include the number of letters needed for a missing word. If you use definitions, provide the word such as: Define the term assessment (rather than provide the definition and forcing the student to retrieve the word). Use the same length blanks, use only one blank, and leave only key words out of the sentence. Poor Item: _______carries blood back to the _______. Better Item: Blood is carried back to the heart by the _______. Completion is appropriate when it is necessary to assess the student’s knowledge of quick, factual material. B. Short Answers and/or Essay Give short answer or essay responses directions. Also provide a bit of background for the student. Items should be stated specifically and clearly as possible to focus the student’s attention on the answer you are seeking. Example: The use of IQ tests has been debated for several decades. In this response, provide a rationale for the use of IQ tests and describe at least two advantages and two disadvantages of IQ tests. You may include values in an essay response (i.e. What do you think of it)? Grade on the degree that the student supports his/her own opinion. Indicate point value and the emphasis assigned to each item part Example: (Total: 10 points) (rationale 2 points, each advantage/disadvantage 4 points) Avoid giving students a choice of which questions they can answer. Have a model answer prepared in advance to increase objectivity for scoring or have a rubric developed in advance Essays should be graded on originality, communication, and organization. For short answer, the student should be able to respond in 1,2, or 3 sentences. Example: In one or two sentences define reliability as it refers to educational assessment. Essays are appropriate to assess higher order thinking and to require students to plan, develop, and write their own answers. C. Listing Used to assess factual material Indicate if maintaining a special order is necessary Indicate the number of items and the point value. Number the answer space for each item. Example: 1. List the four types of reliability (½ point each) 1. 2. 3. 4. D. Selection-type Include matching and multiple choice items 1. Multiple Choice Give authority to the question, as appropriate (i.e., according to our text or according to class discussion.) Use specificity in the stem. The student must be able to anticipate the correct answer after reading the question. The stem should clearly state the problem and help orient the student by providing a frame of reference. The bulk of information should go in the stem rather than the answer choices. Poor item: Assessment is: A. B. C. D. Better item: The authors of our text describe educational assessment as: A. B. C. D. Put responses in logical order A. Number---highest to lowest or lowest to highest B. Dates---highest to lowest or lowest to highest C. Proper names---perhaps alphabetical order Poor item: Which year was the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) enacted into law? A. 1975 B. 1986 C. 1990 D. 1983 Better item: Which year was the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) enacted into law? A. 1975 B. 1983 C. 1986 D. 1990 Do not use any grammatical clues that would assist the students. Also, do not end sentences or questions with a preposition. Make sure the stem and responses are parallel. Example: According to class notes, which two items belong in the background information section of a report? A. The child’s educational history and the child’s hobbies B. The child’s hobbies and the child’s family status C. The child’s educational history and the child’s IQ scores D. The child’s health and the child’s hobbies. Try to make all responses similar in length. A very short response or a very long response often are clues that they are the correct responses. Use all of the above sparingly. In most cases, a direct question is preferred over an incomplete sentence. Poor Item: 1. We live in the continent called: A. North America B. South America C. Canada D. Wisconsin Better Item: 1. What is the name of the continent in which we live? A. North America B. South America C. Canada D. Wisconsin 2. Matching In matching, have more responses than stems. Provide clear directions. Are students supposed to write letters, match with lines, etc? Label each list. Also, indicate if some items can be used more than once. Include more options than premises, and keep the list to a minimum (no more than 10). The list containing longer phrases should be on the left. Each of the premises should be numbered, and each of the options should have an alphabetical letter to identify it. Make all premises and options plural or singular to avoid giving unintentional clues. Make sure stems and responses are homogeneous. Don’t include one or two items that are so clearly different or obvious that they are very easy to match. All of the written information in each column should be of the same class and should be arranged in logical order, such as alphabetical or chronological order. Poor Item A. B. _____1. The capital of Illinois _____2. The year Iowa became a state _____3. A river in Iowa _____4. Governor of Illinois _____5. President of United States A. The Cedar River B. Rod Blagojevich C. George Bush D. Springfield E. Lake McBride F. 1846 G. Las Vegas Better Item-Match the states in Column A to their capitals in Column B. A. B. _____1. Wisconsin _____2. Iowa _____3. California _____4. Colorado _____5. Nebraska A. Des Moines B. Denver C. Madison D. Lincoln E. San Diego F. Sacramento G. Omaha If you match vocabulary terms to their definitions, provide a rather detailed definition rather than a simplistic one such as: Poor Item-Matching Vocabulary A. _____archeologist _____geologist _____meteorologist B. 1. is like a weatherman 2. digs up old bones 3. studies rocks and rock formation 4. a doctor who works with children Better Item-Matching Vocabulary A. _____archeologist _____geologist _____meteorologist B. 1. a scientist who studies weather 2. a scientist who studies rocks and rock formation 3. a scientist who studies prehistoric cultures 4. a scientist who studies the parts of the human body 3. True-False Avoid absolute terms in true/false such as always, never, and sometimes. Avoid negative statements because they often cause problems for students. Don’t make a statement false merely by inserting the word “not” in an otherwise obviously true statement. When an item contains an opinion, be sure to tie it to the source. Make True-False items as short as possible by eliminating extraneous information. Underline or call attention to clue words. Write the same length statements. Other Considerations 1. Make the first test item easy. 2. Place items from easy to difficult OR 3. Periodically place easier items in the test. 4. Consider placing material on the test to parallel the content coverage sequence. 5. All items of the same type should be together. 6. Don’t use more than two item types, in most cases. 7. For elementary students, use one item type. 8. Include directions for the total test and each test section. Include how to respond and the point value for questions in each section. 9. Try not to include information that will offer answers to previous questions. 10. Try to put all matching on one page (etc.) so students do not have to turn pages to match answers and responses. 11. Title the test and each section.