Relationship between item difficulty and discrimination indices in true/false-type multiple choice questions of a para-clinical multidisciplinary paper.

Sim, S.M.; Rasiah, R.I. (2006) Relationship between item difficulty and discrimination indices in true/false-type multiple choice questions of a para-clinical multidisciplinary paper. Annals- Academy of Medicine Singapore, 35 (2). pp. 67-71. ISSN 0304-4602

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: This paper reports the relationship between the difficulty level and the discrimination power of true/false-type multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in a multidisciplinary paper for the para-clinical year of an undergraduate medical programme. MATERIALS AND METHODS: MCQ items in papers taken from Year II Parts A, B and C examinations for Sessions 2001/02, and Part B examinations for 2002/03 and 2003/04, were analysed to obtain their difficulty indices and discrimination indices. Each paper consisted of 250 true/false items (50 questions of 5 items each) on topics drawn from different disciplines. The questions were first constructed and vetted by the individual departments before being submitted to a central committee, where the final selection of the MCQs was made, based purely on the academic judgement of the committee. RESULTS: There was a wide distribution of item difficulty indices in all the MCQ papers analysed. Furthermore, the relationship between the difficulty index (P) and discrimination index (D) of the MCQ items in a paper was not linear, but more dome-shaped. Maximal discrimination (D = 51% to 71%) occurred with moderately easy/difficult items (P = 40% to 74%). On average, about 38% of the MCQ items in each paper were "very easy" (P > or =75%), while about 9% were "very difficult" (P <25%). About two-thirds of these very easy/difficult items had "very poor" or even negative discrimination (D < or =20%). CONCLUSIONS: MCQ items that demonstrate good discriminating potential tend to be moderately difficult items, and the moderately-to-very difficult items are more likely to show negative discrimination. There is a need to evaluate the effectiveness of our MCQ items.

Item Type: Article
Creators:
  1. Sim, S.M.
  2. Rasiah, R.I.
Journal or Publication Title: Annals- Academy of Medicine Singapore
Additional Information: Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adult; Choice Behavior;
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine
Depositing User: Mr. Faizal Hamzah
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2011 10:34
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014 12:05
URI: http://eprints.um.edu.my/id/eprint/600

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