In the interests of fairness, comprehensiveness, and
diversity of test questions, I would like the midterm exam to include test
items suggested by the class. You will be required to submit one exam question
based on the readings or lectures. The question should be challenging but
should never involve trick questions or be picky. For suggestions on how to
construct good test items, see below. Your submission must include the correct
answer and a brief explanation as to why it is correct.
Here are a few general suggestions:
1. The best
exam questions are those that test how well people understand the course
material. Accordingly, your question should go beyond rote learning,
definitions, and terminology.
2. Don't submit a question
that you yourself would regard as picky. Instead, get test takers to
apply the material to new situations. Test them on the social and
societal implications of the material. Draw novel connections. In short,
think big and think creatively.
3. Jazzing up questions
to make them interesting is generally a good strategy, but don't get so
carried away that the context becomes distracting or the item turns
into a mini-essay. Also, make sure that references to TV characters and
current events will be understandable to all test takers.
4. Questions should be difficult for people who don't know the material, but
they should be straightforward for those who do. If a question is difficult
because of complicated wording (e.g., double negatives) or vocabulary,
you will be testing verbal ability rather than a command of the
5. Ask yourself whether each decoy (i.e.,
incorrect answer) in a multiple-choice question is plausible enough to
be chosen AND could possibly be argued as correct. Each decoy should
stand a reasonable chance of being selected by someone who does not know
the material, but at the same time, decoys should never, never, never
be correct, even with the assistance of a good lawyer to argue the case.
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