Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writing exam questions

Here's a tip courtesy of UCD alum Erin Espeland.

Resist the temptation to teach your students while testing them. Writing exam questions with too much information -- or unnecessary, irrelevant information -- creates cognitive overload, making it hard for students to do what you're asking. Here's an example of an overloaded exam question:

The presence and association of the male seems to have profound effects on female physiology in domestic animals. Research has shown that the presence of a bull in cattle has the following effect:

Eliminate "info overload" by simplifying questions and cutting unnecessary words and prhases. Here's a revision of the example:

The presence of a bull has what effect on cattle?

For more discussion of writing exam questions, come to the workshop on Monday, August 25 at 1 pm in Wellman 25!

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