A better way?

Here is the footprint of giving a 40-question multiple-choice exam to my 350-student astronomy course:

Photo on 2016-02-21 at 1.12 PM

That is 350 5-page booklets + 350 1-page scantron sheets. That’s a whopping 2100 sheets of paper that were used for a grand total of 50 minutes.

Clearly, there has GOT to be a better way.

It would be relatively easy to reduce the amount of paper by reducing the size of the print, doing more pages on each sheet but that can only go so far.

I would LOVE to take the midterms online, but then comes the question of upholding academic integrity.

Of course, there’s the obvious question of “is a 40-question multiple choice test the best way to test student learning?” – most likely not. But, 1) I inherited this course as a multiple-choice-based assessed course with very little time to change things this time around, and 2) when you have 1 instructor and 3 TA with very limited hours to help, hands can feel tied.

I’m sure I’m not the first, nor the only, university instructor to be thinking about these issues. There are two main issues here:

  1. The paper costs for a 50-minute test
  2. The usefulness of multiple-choice tests as assessments

What solutions have you come across to these 2, but no un-related issues? What has worked? What hasn’t?

There has GOT to be a better way.

This entry was posted in assessment, astronomy, re-thinking, Reflection, teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

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