The effect of type of assessment on content retention by seventh grade science students

The purpose of this two-week study was to determine which type of test best fostered content retention by seventh grade science students. Two types of tests were used in this study, a multiple-choice test, and a constructed response/short essay test. The study involved 68 students from a middle school in San Juan Capistrano, California. These students were divided into two groups. Group 1 was given a multiple-choice test after a unit of study and the Group 2 was given a constructed response/short essay test. Two weeks later both groups were given a surprise post-test on the same subject matter. The mean, median, and standard deviation for each sample of post-test scores was calculated. A Z test was performed to determine whether or not the difference in the means was significant. The results suggested that the type of test does affect content retention in seventh grade science students on a post-test given two weeks after an initial test. In this study the students that took a constructed response/short essay test showed better content retention than the students that took a multiple-choice test. The attitude survey about type of test and study habits revealed that these seventh grade science students were more confident in their ability to do well on multiple-choice tests, they preferred multiple-choice tests to constructed response/short essay tests, and they studied differently depending on which type of test they were expecting. KEYWORDS: assessment, constructed response, content retention, multiple-choice, short essay Item only available to the CSUSM community. Authentication with campus user name and password required.