Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Multiple-Choice Bubbling

Students first meet multiple-choice by receiving a #2 pencil and a sheet printed with a variety of boxes, circles or ovals to be darkened (unless they can mark directly on the test). The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) game requires one properly darkened mark on one answer option for each question in the allotted time, at lower levels of thinking (LLOT); a characteristic of NCLB testing. Secondly, for marginal students, the mark should hopefully be a right answer.

Large bubble sizes were used to improve the accuracy of older answer sheet readers. [teachervision] More time was needed to fully darken the outlined space [YouTube]. “… because of such onerous requirements, test takers may become preoccupied with filling the bubbles correctly and less able to focus on the substantive tasks at hand.” [patentstorm]

Many solutions to this problem now exist: [Vertical ovals, Scantron Form 229627] [Small circles and with intermediate student spacing, Scantron Form 220610] (Both sets of circles have the same space to darken in each circle.)

The most novel solution is a large letter replacing the large bubble with a smaller letter inside. The reduced bubble now only covers the target area the optical mark reader actually sees. [Normal, Apperson Form 205090; Large, Apperson Form 23020]  The original relationships between bubble and letter have been inverted for young students, older adults, and employees.

The loss of meaningful information available from these tests, by only counting right marks, has also been solved by an inversion: inverting who is responsible for determining if a mark is right or wrong from teacher or examiner to student or examinee. [Nine-Patch Multiple-Choice and Knowledge Factor] A multiple-choice test now takes on the same characteristics of other assessments, involving judgment, by requiring students to function at all levels of thinking, plus, rapid scoring and detailed student or examinee counseling reports.

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