and ( 5) highlight important parts of
items. Write out the responses true and
false so that students answer by circling
one or the other, to avoid students confusing Ts and Fs under pressure.
True-false items should not contain
double negatives. If items must be stated
in the negative, highlight the negative
words and phrases. Avoid vague terms
that can mean different things to different students (like usually, probably, or
is useful for); qualifying words that cue
students that a statement is true (like
often, may, or usually); and absolute
words that hint that a statement may be
false (like all, entirely, or never). Notice
how the revised true-false item shown
in Figure 3 is clearly worded, relates to
an authentic situation, and is presented
in an appealing context (being a fact
checker for a website).
FIGURE 3. Original and Revised True-False Item
WRITE T OR F TO IDENTIFY WHETHER THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT
IS TRUE OR FALSE.
1. It is not uncommon for the amount of solar radiation that reaches a location on
the Earth’s surface to vary based on the season.
You have been hired by a website to tweet accurate facts about the
sun and the moon. Identify whether the following statement should be
tweeted or deleted by:
Circling Tweet if the statement is true.
Circling Delete if the statement is false.
The first one is done for you as an example.
Each true-false item is worth 1 point.
Sentence-completion items can be difficult because the information needed to
Tweet Delete 1. The amount of solar radiation that reaches a location on the
Earth’s surface varies based on the season.
complete the sentence often comes from
print materials which, when taken out
a word bank of choices from which
of context, may be vague. Make sure the students can select to complete the
statement provides a sufficient context
statement. Make sure that the words
for knowing what answer to provide.
provided share similar grammatical
The question should address important features (such as being similar parts of
information and have one clear answer, speech) and are presented in a logical
for your local newspaper. Write a
blog entry about how electing the U.S.
president by popular vote rather than by
the electoral college would affect your
Because of the numerous skills they
and the missing word or phrase must
order. Let students know if they can use demand, both types of essay questions
be meaningful. Keep word blanks to a
words from the word bank more than
present challenges for many students.
minimum in each statement and locate once. (See www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/
Teachers can minimize challenges by
the blank near the end of the statement. journals/ed_lead/el_201111_Salend_
making sure that their essay questions
Researchers generally recommend that
Examples.pdf for an example of a
are focused and appropriate in terms
a one-word response, or a short phrase revised sentence-completion item.)
of readability and level of difficulty. It
at most, should be enough to complete
helps to specify the essay’s length and
time limits, as well as what components
When creating these items, it’s
Essay questions use either a restricted
should be included and what criteria the
helpful to decide whether specific
response format, which offers a struc-
teacher will use to evaluate responses.
synonyms, abbreviations, misspellings,
ture to guide the content and format
Make sure to give students, especially
and other variations of the answer the
of responses (“How are stalactites and
those with writing difficulties, sufficient
teacher has in mind will be considered
stalagmites both different and similar?”) time to write their answers.
correct and to inform students of this
in advance. Some teachers address the
issue of multiple responses by offering
or an open-ended format, which allows
greater flexibility in composing an
answer (“Imagine you are a blogger
Teachers can help students interpret
and answer essay questions correctly by