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Will a Short Training Session Improve Multiple-Choice Item-Writing Quality by Dental School Faculty? A Pilot Study

  • Author(s): Dellinges, MA
  • Curtis, DA
  • et al.
Abstract

Faculty members are expected to write high-quality multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in order to accurately assess dental students' achievement. However, most dental school faculty members are not trained to write MCQs. Extensive faculty development programs have been used to help educators write better test items. The aim of this pilot study was to determine if a short workshop would result in improved MCQ item-writing by dental school faculty at one U.S. dental school. A total of 24 dental school faculty members who had previously written MCQs were randomized into a no-intervention group and an intervention group in 2015. Six previously written MCQs were randomly selected from each of the faculty members and given an item quality score. The intervention group participated in a training session of one-hour duration that focused on reviewing standard item-writing guidelines to improve in-house MCQs. The no-intervention group did not receive any training but did receive encouragement and an explanation of why good MCQ writing was important. The faculty members were then asked to revise their previously written questions, and these were given an item quality score. The item quality scores for each faculty member were averaged, and the difference from pre-training to post-training scores was evaluated. The results showed a significant difference between pre-training and post-training MCQ difference scores for the intervention group (p=0.04). This pilot study provides evidence that the training session of short duration was effective in improving the quality of in-house MCQs.

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