Lets take a look at Bloom's taxonomy of learning:
- Remember: This is simply the ability to memorize.
- Understand: ability to conceptualize.
- Apply: ability to use the information we are given.
- Analyze: ability to take apart the information we are given.
- Evaluate: ability to make judgments of the information.
- Synthesis: ability to recreate or reconstruct from the information we took apart.
Some examples of multiple choice questions that might test students beyond rote memorization:
- Understand: Why does the area of a rectangle equal length times height?
- Apply: Use a calculator to determine the square root of four.
- Analyze: Given two buckets of equal size and the same amount of water, which would drain faster, a bucket with one hole that is two inches in diameter or a bucket with two holes that are each one inch in diameter.
- Evaluate: Which theorem would be best to use to determine the hypotenuse of an angle?
- Synthesis: Would best be used as an essay question.
Why it is important to test beyond the facts:
Can you imagine
- a teacher that knows their students are failing, but can't figure out why?
- or a doctor that knows what a stethoscope is, but not know how to use it?
- or an engineer that knows the definition of the Pythagorean theorem, but doesn't know to use it to figure out the slope of a roof?
- or an auto mechanic that knows that some cars are carbureted and some are fuel injected, but can't figure out why your car is idling rough?
- or a musician that knows that a there are four quarter notes per measure, but can't write a song?