Enhancing Electronic Examinations through Advanced Multiple-Choice Questionnaires

Enhancing Electronic Examinations through Advanced Multiple-Choice Questionnaires

Dimos Triantis (Technological Educational Institution of Athens, Athens, Greece) and Errikos Ventouras (Technological Educational Institution of Athens, Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch806
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The present chapter deals with the variants of grading schemes that are applied in current Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) tests. MCQs are ideally suited for electronic examinations, which, as assessment items, are typically developed in the framework of Learning Content Management Systems (LCMSs) and handled, in the cycle of educational and training activities, by Learning Management Systems (LMS). Special focus is placed in novel grading methodologies, that enable to surpass the limitations and drawbacks of the most commonly used grading schemes for MCQs in electronic examinations. The paired MCQs grading method, according to which a set of pairs of MCQs is composed, is presented. The MCQs in each pair are similar concerning the same topic, but this similarity is not evident for an examinee that does not possess adequate knowledge on the topic addressed in the questions of the pair. The adoption of the paired MCQs grading method might expand the use of electronic examinations, provided that the new method proves its equivalence to traditional methods that might be considered as standard, such as constructed response (CR) tests. Research efforts to that direction are presented.
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Learning Management Systems (LMS) ideally support the whole cycle of activities related to the interactions between instructors and students, as well as their interactions with administrative staff and learning material (Chu, Young, Ngai, Cun, Pearl, & Macario, 2010; Ellis, 2009a). This “all encompassing” characteristic provides an extensive set of features that are available to the users of a LMS. Educational institutions and corporations can use features such as certification of participants, compliance tracking, reporting and statistical processing of educational activities, management approval, authoring of material and content management, as well as assessment ans testing. In the present chapter focus will be placed on the assessment and testing features of a LMS and, more specifically, on variants of electronic examination methods. An electronic examination is an assessment item delivered by the LMS, while the development, management and publishing of the items that the electronic examination consists of are usually tasks of a Learning Content Management System (LCMS), a software application that is either incorporated into a LMS or closely interacts with it (Feldstein, 2004). The use of electronic examinations methods, in the context of LMS, as computer-based learning and evaluation items, created in the framework of a LCMS and managed by a LMS, should be considered for enriching and strengthening the existing assessment schemes, while at the same time constructing innovative assessment techniques (Ganguli et al., 2006; Triantis, Anastasiadis, Tsiakas, & Stergiopoulos, 2007).

As stated above, LMS are not directly involved in producing the contents provided to the users of the systems. Nevertheless, the whole “super-structure” that a LMS provides to an educational organization that seeks to benefit from an automated system for managing educational processes, is based on a set of foundations, among which are the assessment and testing tools incorporated into the LMS. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conducted two surveys, in 2009 (189 participants) and 2010 (342 participants), on users of LMS. When asked to rank the most valuable features of LMS, in both years, among 15 features, assessment and testing ranked 1st with 59.3% of participants ranking it most valuable feature in 2009 and 54.5% in 2010 (Ellis, 2009b; Ellis, 2010). In 2009 the feature that ranked 2nd was content management, with 48.4%, and in 2010 reporting, with 51.5%. Electronic examination modules are an important part of assessment and testing tools used by LMS. In the light of the above, research concerning innovative assessment techniques, incorporated into electronic examination modules, might be an efficient way to further the adoption of LMS.

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