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Posted by Tara Williams
updated over a week ago
I know what you might be thinking: It’s not fair to play favorites, even with something as inanimate as an item type. And you’d be absolutely right; stop reading this article right now! Joking aside, my “favorite” item type is any one that best helps me achieve my particular measurement goals; in other words, my favorite can and does change based on my or my clients’ specific needs.
Conversely, my least favorite item type is one I’m being forced to use, based on a strict numeric target of having x number of specific types on an exam, where I and my item writing cohorts must jam content into a format rather than using the item type that will result in the best measurement. The item type that measures the skill in the best way possible is always going to win out for me (and I believe most, if not all, veteran item writers would agree with me on that point.)
After spending a decade creating items and exams, particularly in Caveon’s robust Scorpion tool, I have formed some preferences, though. And I’d love to share them with you. Think of this list less as prescriptive and more as my own psychometric version of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” (“You get a great item type, you get a great item type, you ALL get great item types!”) Or, if you prefer, sing this list to the tune of “These are a few of my favorite things” a la The Sound of Music.
While not “smart” like the previous two item types, the multiple-choice item type is very easy to create and train on since it’s been around for so long, and since writers have seen it before. Randomizing options in multiple-choice items and delivering on-the-fly forms can help make these traditional item types a little more secure.
Whether you’re just starting your journey as an assessment professional or you’re a veteran, choosing which types of items to use in your program’s exams is a critical step. The exercise itself—in generating a list of “favorites” or “most-used” and exploring the reasons why—is something I highly recommend. And remember, “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you’re feeling sad, simply remember your favorite [item types], and then you won’t feel so bad.”
Tara Williams is Caveon's Chief Editor. With over ten years of experience writing and creating secure exams, Tara knows the ins and outs of exam development.View all articles
For more than 18 years, Caveon Test Security has driven the discussion and practice of exam security in the testing industry. Today, as the recognized leader in the field, we have expanded our offerings to encompass innovative solutions and technologies that provide comprehensive protection: Solutions designed to detect, deter, and even prevent test fraud.