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A Process For Improving Objective Examinations

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade Inside the Classroom

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.89.1 - 7.89.4



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Paper Authors

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John Gumaer

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session Number 1375

A Process for Improving Objective Examinations

John A. Gumaer Northern Michigan University


A process is described to assist new engineering faculty in developing effective student examinations. This process can be applied in traditional classroom instruction or web-based learning settings. An effective examination begins with a set of measurable and observable test objectives. These objectives are derived from course objectives or outcomes. The test objectives should be relevant to mastery of the course material. The cognitive skill level of the objective should also be determined. Once the objectives have been established, the actual questions can be written. Effective examinations include questions that are worded clearly, concisely, and phrased positively. All answer options should be plausible and avoid use of imprecise terms or jargon. The questions are then reviewed for test objective congruence, technical correctness, and grammatical errors. The result is an examination that provides a precise evaluation of student learning, streamlined grading, fewer arbitration issues, and support for distance or web-based learning.


New engineering faculty usually have minimal prior experience in creating exams to effectively evaluate student learning. These newcomers typically will integrate their exam experiences as students with exam techniques used by their peers to arrive at a workable exam. The results may be unsatisfactory. Knowing a subject and knowing how to write an exam to test knowledge of a subject are two separate matters. The goals of an effective student examination are to understand student mastery of course content, minimize grading time to improve feedback ("turnaround") time, and to reduce the potential for arbitration and complaints due to student misunderstandings and confusion. An effective examination has the following characteristics 1:

1. Samples the spectrum of important objectives 2. Measures examinee's understanding or ability to apply concepts 3. Perceived as a fair test by students successfully completing course 4. Low probability of yielding a high score for students who have not mastered the test objectives 5. High probability of yielding a high score for students who have mastered the test objectives

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ã 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Gumaer, J. (2002, June), A Process For Improving Objective Examinations Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10432

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