Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TYPES OF QUESTIONS

Once we have understood the functions of the various parts, we can now begin to classify questions according to broad groups. Here they are in brief summary.



Structured Questions are those where the number of marks allocated corresponds to the number of times a task is required to be repeated; or the number of steps required in the answer.

Open-ended Questions are those where the number of marks allocated corresponds to the answer’s complexity or sophistication. The marks are usually arranged in levels where the most complex or sophisticated answer gets the most marks.

Among Structured Questions, the 2 subdivisions refer to;

Data Response Questions, which are those where information is given and answers are to be derived from the interpretation of the given information alone.

Information Recall Questions, which are those where information is not given and answers are to be derived from self-study.

Among Open-ended Questions, the 2 subdivisions refer to;

Binary – where there are only 2 sides to the argument presented.

Superlative – where the best option is to be chosen from a list of factors.

Despite this classification, I am not suggesting that there are generic models that can be used to answer these questions. Instead, each type of question has its own unique demands and marking criteria. Mistaking one for the other will render the answer inadmissible because it does not meet the question’s requirements.

Teachers and students alike should therefore be mindful of the role each element plays within the question. By constructing a question in a particular fashion, it sets limits to some aspects and open doors to others and we should be careful to ensure that the question is accurate in conveying the setter’s true intent.

In the end, we must understand that the information acquired during study are the tools in the tool box and exam questions are the broken appliances. When fixing a toaster, you don’t need to put on display the myriad of tools you have acquired over your years of study. All you need is a screwdriver and you need to use it right.

Here are some worked examples to illustrate what I mean.

Next up: The importance of Command Words

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