Multiple-Choice and Short-Answer Exam Performance in a College Classroom

Steven C. Funk, K. Laurie Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The authors experimentally investigated the effects of multiple-choice and short-answer format exam items on exam performance in a college classroom. They randomly assigned 50 students to take a 10-item short-answer pretest or posttest on two 50-item multiple-choice exams in an introduction to personality course. Students performed significantly better on items presented in a multiple-choice format. The high internal validity achieved with matched test items, manipulation of item type order, and manipulation of student expectancy across exams was complemented by high external validity and pedagogical ecology afforded by the college classroom, extending previous laboratory findings. Performance on multiple-choice exams may provide inaccurate information to instructors concerning student learning and overestimate students' learning of course information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-277
Number of pages5
JournalTeaching of Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • dependency hypothesis
  • multiple-choice questions
  • pedagogical ecology
  • short-answer exam questions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple-Choice and Short-Answer Exam Performance in a College Classroom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this