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Examples of question styles that can be used to address higher levels

On the next two pages we present two formats of questions that can be used to generate multiple instances of questions that are believed to test at higher levels of learning.

Example 1: Assertion/Reason question

Example ARQ from Williams (2006)

Like traditional MCQs, ARQs present students with a number of possible solutions. In contrast to traditional MCQs, however, ARQs also include a true/false element (CAA Centre, 2000). Specifically, each item consists of two statements, an assertion and a reason, that are linked by the word 'because'. The student then selects from a multiple-choice legend after proceeding through a number of steps. First, he or she must determine whether the 'assertion' is true or false, and then whether the 'reason' is true or false.

If one, or both, of the statements is deemed false, then the answer will be alternative (c), (d), or (e) accordingly.

If, on the other hand, both statements are deemed true, a third step is required whereby the respondent must determine whether the second statement provides an accurate explanation for the first.

According to Williams (2006) "traditional MCQs usually test only one issue/concept. ARQs, on the other hand, test two per question (the assertion and the reason statements) plus the validity of the 'because' statement in the event assertion and reason are both correct statements. On the basis that judging the correctness of two statements must be harder than judging the correctness of one, it would follow that ARQs present more of an intellectual challenge than traditional MCQs."

Bull and McKenna (2004) make several recommendations for writing ARQs:

"Assertion-reason tests can be used to explore cause and effect and identify relationships. When writing assertion-reason questions, keep in mind the following points:

  1. The reason should be a free standing sentence so that it can be considered separately from the assertion.
  2. Avoid using minor reasons. These can result in an ambiguous question.
  3. Repeat options A-E in full for each question.
  4. Use all five options as keys equally.