Short-answer examinations improve student performance in an oral and maxillofacial pathology course

R. Neal Pinckard, C. Alex McMahan, Thomas J. Prihoda, John H. Littlefield, Anne Cale Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effect of examination question format on student performance was assessed by investigating three academically comparable second-year dental school classes in an oral and maxillofacial pathology course. One class was given examinations with all multiple-choice questions, one class was given examinations with all short-answer questions, and one class was given examinations with half multiple-choice questions and half short-answer questions. The class given examinations with half short-answer questions along with half multiple-choice questions had a significantly higher average score and grade category distribution (80-100 percent, 70-79 percent, <70 percent) than the class given examinations with all multiple-choice questions. When students in these two classes were divided into three academic ability groups based on the student's score in a prerequisite general pathology course, the class given examinations with half short-answer questions and half multiple-choice questions in the oral and maxillofacial pathology course had significantly higher scores and grade category distributions in all three ability groups. The average score and grade category distribution in the class given examinations with all short-answer questions in the oral and maxillofacial pathology course were not significantly different from the average score and grade category distribution in the class given examinations with half short-answer and half multiple-choice questions. Our interpretation of these results is that the utilization of examinations containing short-answer questions created a more challenging learning environment that motivated students to adopt more effective study regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-961
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of dental education
Volume73
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

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Keywords

  • Aptitude-treatment interaction
  • Correction for guessing
  • Dental education
  • Educational measurement
  • Educational methodology
  • Formula scoring
  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Short-answer questions
  • Student performance evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)

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