Higher Education

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 453–472 | Cite as

The influence of assessment method on students' learning approaches: Multiple choice question examination versus assignment essay

  • Karen Scouller
Article

Abstract

A sample of 206 second-year Education students completed questionnaires on issues relating to their preparation for and perceptions of two methods of assessment of the same course: an assignment essay and an end-of-course multiple choice question (MCQ) examination. The questionnaire required a simultaneous response for each assessment method to statements focusing on their learning approaches, their perceptions of the levels of intellectual abilities being assessed, and their preference for either the assignment essay or MCQ examination as an assessment method of the course and the reasons for their choices. The above variables were analysed in relation to each other and to performance outcome in both assessment tasks. Results suggest distinct patterns according to assessment method. Students were more likely to employ surface learning approaches in the MCQ examination context and to perceive MCQ examinations as assessing knowledge-based (lower levels of) intellectual processing. Poorer performance in the MCQ examination was associated with the employment of deep learning strategies. In contrast, students were more likely to employ deep learning approaches when preparing their assignment essays which they perceived as assessing higher levels of cognitive processing. Poorer performance in the assignment essays was associated with the employment of surface strategies. The implications of these findings are discussed.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Scouller
    • 1
  1. 1.Learning Assistance Centre Level 7 Education Bldg A 35University of SydneyBroadwayAustralia.

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