The use of multiple choice tests in law

Marshall, K. 2008. The use of multiple choice tests in law. in: Kwan, R., Fox, R., Chan, F.T. and Tsang, P. (ed.) Enhancing learning through technology: research on emerging technologies and pedagogies Singapore World Scientific Publishing. pp. 263-276

Chapter titleThe use of multiple choice tests in law
AuthorsMarshall, K.
EditorsKwan, R., Fox, R., Chan, F.T. and Tsang, P.
Abstract

The paper evaluates the success in using multiple choice tests (MCT) to support student learning on the law degree at the University of Westminster. Law is a subject which does not encourage the use of MCTs as a type of summative assessment as it is difficult to set up questions that test the application of the law. However, MCTs are very useful for testing knowledge on a formative basis. The numbers entering higher education in the UK have grown dramatically over the last few years. The numbers of students studying the law of contract, a foundation subject, have grown from a cohort of about 200 students in 2000/2001 to a cohort of 450 students in 2005/2006. The summative assessment regime has remained constant in that it is composed of an essay worth 30% of the final mark and a closed book examination worth 70%. It has been noted that students were failing in the exam usually because although they absorbed the basic rules of law, they had not learnt or understood enough basic case law. Formative assessment has been embedded in the module to endeavour to remedy the fall in pass rates. In addition to a ‘mock exam’, a formative test was introduced midway through the first semester (the midsessional) in order to identify those students whose understanding of the topic was questionable. Initially this was taken as a paper MCT, but with the introduction of the Blackboard learning system, the test was moved to an on line format. This was done to ease the marking burden on staff and also to ensure that tutorial time was not lost. The informal feedback on the midsessional tests suggested that the students wanted further tests to use in their revision. In 2005 three more short MCTs were introduced on popular exam topics. There was a correlation between those students who attempted the tests and those students who were successful in the exam. The average mark obtained on the module improved by over 2% and the numbers of failures decreased. The tests were repeated again in 2006 and the data was analysed to ascertain whether the pass rates were being affected by the use of the tests. All students were emailed a short questionnaire regarding their use of the tests. The feedback from those questionnaires was analysed and some conclusions drawn as to the future role that MCTs will have on the module.

KeywordsMultiple choice tests, MCTs, Assessment, on line learning
Book titleEnhancing learning through technology: research on emerging technologies and pedagogies
Page range263-276
Year2008
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing
Publication dates
Published2008
Place of publicationSingapore
ISBN9789812799449

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