September 27, 2007

Multiple Choice

Posted by Ben Simo

I dislike multiple choice tests. The distractors (the wrong answers) tend to be either so wrong that it is easy to find the correct answer or so close to the correct answer that they confuse test takers that know the material. Multiple choice tests make computer scoring of students possible but they are not capable of measuring students' understanding as well as short answer or essay tests. Tests that better measure learning are harder to grade. Tests that better measure learning require sapient human judgment -- not computer-scorable multiple choice tests.

Scripted software tests based on objective pass/fail criteria overly simplify testing. These tests may be easy to execute using automation or cheap labor. These tests may be easy to score. However. they are not able to provide the same value as sapient exploration of the system under test.

If only we could give software multiple-choice tests to measure quality ...

Testing ain't easy.