What You might not be Assessing through a Multiple Choice Test Task
International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education
Comprehending a text involves constructing a coherent mental representation of it and deep comprehension of a text in its entirety is a critical skill in academic contexts. Interpretations on test takers' ability to comprehend texts are made on the basis of performance in test tasks but the extent to which test tasks are effective in directing test takers towards reading a text to understand the whole of it is questionable. In the current study, tests based on multiple choice items are
... items are investigated in terms of their potential to facilitate or preclude cognitive processes that lead to higher level reading processes necessary for text level macrostructure formation. Participants' performance in macrostructure formation after completing a multiple choice test and a summarization task were quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. Task performances were compared and retrospective verbal protocol data were analyzed to categorize the reading processes the participants went through while dealing with both tasks. Analyses showed that participants' performance in macrostructure formation of the texts they read for multiple choice test completion and summarization task differed significantly and that they were less successful in comprehending the text in its entirety when they were asked to read to answer multiple choice questions that followed the text. The findings provided substantial evidence of the inefficacy of the multiple choice test technique in facilitating test takers' macrostructure formation and thus pointed at yet another threat to the validity of this test technique.