Foundation Skills/Developing an assessment/Overview of question types

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Overview of question types

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The questions used in assessment tasks fall into two broad categories:
  • Closed questions (or fixed response questions): Questions in this category require students to provide a single correct answer to a question (e.g. a word, phrase, short decription, number, matching terms, selecting from a list of possible options)
  • Open-ended questions: Here, students are required to write an original answer (e.g. an argumentative or persuasive essay, a plan for a new house, a marketing straegy for a new product). there are no 'correct' answers for this category of question.

For suggestions on when to use these two types of questions, see the University of Texas Austin resource Deciding which exam question type to use.

Questions can come in a variety of types, depending on what learning the examiner wants students to demonstrate. You will be familiar with the following commonly-used question types: multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer, essay, computational, and oral. Waterloo University has a great resource Exam Questions: Types, Characteristics, and Suggestions which provides an overview of the main question types.

  • Read through the Waterloo resource and then identify the question types that you most commonly use. Are there any pitfalls associated with the question types that you use?