Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 2263-2271
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
The creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) started with the signature of the Bologna Declaration in the year 1999. The convergence of higher education institutions, within this area promoted by the European Union, involves the homologation of university studies in Europe and the creation of an open space for students, faculty, administrative staff and graduates. The EHEA encourages a change in the assessment of students’ learning process; this assessment has to be on-going, formative, varied, fair, known and successful. The final test, oral or written, has been frequently used, not only in the traditional methodology of university education, but also in the EHEA system. However, relevance of this type of assessment is reduced in the new educative framework, remaining as a complement to on-going evaluation systems. Objective questions are an interesting tool contributing to facilitate the on-going teaching-learning process. In any case, quality of objective questions must be assessed. Although the correction is completely objective, both the formulation of the question and the passing threshold are subject to the teacher’s subjective decision.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of two sets of objective questions used as part of the assessment in two subjects. Both subjects involved in the study belong to the School of Agricultural Engineering and Environment of the Universitat Politècnica de València. ‘General genetics’ is a compulsory subject, with 6 ECTS, in the first year of the Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology. For this subject, a total of 74 multiple-choice questions were analysed using the answers of 421 students from 2010/2011 to 2013/2014 academic years. All multiple-choice questions had four answer choices and just one was correct. The other subject, ‘Forest Site Science’, is also a compulsory subject, with 9 ECTS, in the second year of the Bachelor’s Degree in Forest and Environmental Engineering. A total of 198 objective questions were analysed. For each of them the answers of more than 10 students were available, from 2011/2012 to 2013/2014 academic years. In this case, 139 of the questions had multiple answer choices and just one was correct, while the remaining 59 were true or false questions.

Descriptive analyses for each of the sets of objective questions, as well as determination of difficulty and discrimination coefficients, have been performed in order to assess their quality. In the case of ‘General genetics’, the average of right, wrong and unanswered questions was 86.2, 12.6 and 1.2%, respectively. The same percentages for ‘Forest Site Science’ were 74.3, 21.4 and 4.3, respectively. Difficulty coefficient means, as well as both discrimination coefficients means, were in the expected range for academic assessment. However, the discrimination coefficients were negative in one and five questions of each set, respectively, thus these questions should be reviewed. The information obtained was used to identify the rights and wrongs of the students and to improve quality of the sets of questions. As a result, the teaching-learning process has been enriched.
EHEA, difficulty coefficient, discrimination coefficients, objective questions, on-going assessment.