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A study of strategy of response to multiple choice test items in general science Shearman, K. Stewart


In this study, a technique was developed for classifying the manner in which testees came to choose their responses to multiple choice items on a test of Science 20. One hundred thirty-one students enrolled in Science 20 at Alpha Junior Secondary School in School District # 41 (Burnaby) took part in the investigation. The sample comprised five sections taught by two teachers. The aim of the study was to determine if a distinguishable response choice strategy existed for the test under study. The pupils were asked to classify their response choice behaviour into 4 categories: guessing, elimination and guessing, recall, and reasoning. The responses were separated into groups of successful and unsuccessful testees on each of the 60 items of the test. The question was asked: Do successful testees show different response choice behaviour from unsuccessful ones? The hypothesis was tested for each of the 60 items. On 33 of these items, the response choice behaviour of successful testees differed from unsuccessful ones at or above the 95% confidence level. The strategy of response choice appeared to be to try to recall the answer first, and if this was not possible, to rely on reasoning, elimination and guessing, and guessing in that order. Three factors; achievement, difficulty level, and discriminating power; which might influence response choice behaviour were investigated. The results were inconclusive.

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