The purpose of the present study was to examine
the effect of response format—open-ended (OE) versus
multiple-choice (MC)—on the diagnosis of examinee
misconceptions in a procedural task. A test in fraction
addition arithmetic was administered to 285 eighth-grade
students, 148 of whom responded to the OE version
of the test and 137 to the MC version. The two
datasets were compared with respect to the underlying
structure of the test, the number of different error
types, and the diagnosed sources of misconception
(bugs) reflected in the response patterns. The overall
results indicated considerable differences between the
two formats, with more favorable results for the OE
The effect of item format on examinee responses
has been studied extensively in the past decade.
The equivalence of open-ended (OE) items (also
known as free-response or recall items) and multiple-
choice (MC)items(also known as recognition
items) has addressed by psychometricians and
cognitive psychologists. From an information-processing
point of view, different models for the two
formats have been suggested (e. g., Bender,
1980). The commonly held view suggests that recall
items require examinees to both search for and
retrieve information, whereas recognition items require
them only to discriminate among the presented information.
Birenbaum, Menucha; Tatsuoka, Kikumi K..
Open-ended versus multiple-choice response formats--it does make a difference for diagnostic purposes.
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