1. Crane, Kathleen R. MSN, RN Reviewer

Article Content

SYSTEMATIC ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING OUTCOMES: DEVELOPING MULTIPLE-CHOICE EXAMS Mary E. McDonald Jones and Bartlett Publishers 40 Tall Pine Dr Sudbury, MA 01776 Telephone: 978-443-5000 E-mail: Web: ISBN: 0-7637-1174-8 Price: $42.95


Systematic Assessment of Learning Outcomes: Developing Multiple-Choice Exams is a comprehensive resource for those who use multiple-choice examinations to assess student learning. Assessing learning is an integral part of the educational process. Developing an examination that truly assesses what students have learned is one of the most challenging tasks for educators. This easy-to-read resource can greatly assist with that task. This book contains 12 chapters, 6 appendices, and an extensive reference list. Its purpose is to provide the reader with guidance in developing valid and reliable multiple-choice tests.


The author begins with a chapter on the role of assessment. She discusses the nature of assessment, along with such topics as ethical responsibility in assessment, standards for assessment, and some of the most common instruments used in assessing learning.


Chapter 2 discusses the language and terminology involved in assessment. It provides definitions and discussions of some common terms involved in the testing process (eg, test reliability and validity). There is extensive discussion of various types of evidence of test validity: content-related evidence, construct-related evidence, and criterion-related evidence.


The third chapter focuses on the development of objectives in the instructional process. It discusses the mastery-level, developmental-level, and intermediate-level objectives and includes a table that compares mastery-level and developmental-level learning objectives. A work sheet for instructional strategies is also included.


Nursing stresses the need for critical-thinking skills, and Chapter 4 of this resource is devoted to assessing this area. It includes several figures and tables, including one that identifies critical-thinking behaviors that can be tested using multiple-choice questions.


Chapter 5 provides a step-by-step plan for the actual test development that includes preliminary considerations in test development through the actual preparation of the examination booklet. This chapter also includes an example of a master test plan and a content/objective work sheet, as well as test blueprints.


Chapters 6 and 7 address the development of multiple-choice items. Chapter 6 provides general-item writing guidelines, and Chapter 7 focuses on writing items that address critical thinking. Both of these chapters include sample formats for questions and examples of effective and ineffective test items and both discuss using the nursing process as a framework for developing questions.


Chapter 8 provides information on assembling, administering, and scoring the examination. This chapter supplies practical "how-to" information for this phase of the testing process. It also includes a section on cheating strategies and ways to deter cheating.


Chapters 9 and 10 focus on establishing the reliability and validity and interpreting the results. Chapter 9 discusses methods to help estimate reliability of the test, measurement error, and validity of the test. Chapter 10 focuses on the interpretation of test results, and includes information on the common statistical data reported when a test is scored. Although the author states that this is not a comprehensive measurement text, I believe that the information contained in this chapter would be beneficial to those with limited knowledge of the statistical data reported.


Chapter 11 discusses the issue that probably matters most to the student-grades. This chapter talks about grading principles and philosophy. It also discusses developing a grading plan, grading types, and adjusting grades.


The final chapter looks at test item banks and test-development software. It includes hints and tips on selecting appropriate software programs and implementing the software package. Also included in this chapter is a list of some Web sites where the reader can get information on test-development software.


The 6 appendices contain information on basic test statistics, a basic style guide for writing test items, cognitive levels for writing items, sample item stems for phases of the nursing process, a list of steps for implementing a systematic plan, and finally a chart that shows the relationship of critical-thinking characteristics to the nursing process.


As a faculty member involved in courses that use multiple-choice tests as the primary method of assessing student learning, I find this book to be a valuable resource. One of the book's strengths is its easy-to-read practical approach to the test-construction process, and I recommend this book for those who are both new to it and more experienced.