I recently listened to an interesting interview at eLearningcoach.com of a psychometrician, Michael Rodriguez, PhD., from the University of Minnesota Department of Educational Psychology. I have the podcast linked below (~45 minutes), but I'll cover some tips that might useful the next time you are developing a test or a quiz.
What’s a Psychometrician?
This is not knowledge I was born with so I looked it up on the Internet. According to Merriam Webster, a psychometrician is a person (a clinical psychologist) who is skilled in the administration and interpretation of objective psychological tests.
Tests are an Opportunity
Tests give instructors a window into what learners know, but tests also inform the structure of your class content. What does that mean? If you plan on asking a lot of questions about a specific topic, then an appropriate amount of time should be spent on that content in class. Conversely, if you spend a lot of time on a topic, students will most likely receive the message (implied or explicit) that this information is important and will probably be covered in-depth on the test.
Develop Test Items while Developing Content
Whether you’re developing a one-hour webinar or a semester-long class, you will most likely ask yourself what knowledge, skills and abilities you want students to obtain from the class. After developing each section of a class, Dr. Rodriguez suggests that you stop and think about the test questions that will measure what you plan on teaching. Bottom line…don’t wait until you are all done developing content to write test questions.
Test Item Guidelines
Test items are the type of questions you use; multiple choice, True or False, fill-in-the blank, etc. Here are some tips from Dr. Rodriguez.
Dr. Rodriguez suggests you make a list of topics that need to be covered on the test. These will match your learning objectives. Then, align the importance of the topic with the number of test questions about that topic. If you spend little time on a topic, students will most likely get the message that this isn’t a section of huge importance, only to learn later that there are several questions about the topic on the test.
Click here to listen to the whole podcast or use the player below (player many not work in all browsers).