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  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Some measurement specialists equate the short-answer with the completion item, perceiving its usefulness as confined to the Knowledge level. Others see no differences between the short-answer and the completion items in either usefulness or structure. As we demonstrate, however, the horizontal versatility of the short-answer item transcends the major content areas, and it is adaptable to every level in the cognitive domain. Since many state assessment tests contain open-ended questions, skill in responding to short-answer items can improve your students’ scores on these high-stakes tests.


    As we mention in chapter 3, the completion item is an incomplete sentence with a single blank at the end of the item. The short-answer item, however, is structured either as a question or a command:

    Question: What is the sum of 38 + 24?

    Command: Solve the problem 38 +24.

    As with the completion item, neither the question nor command form of the short-answer item should provide for multiple answers:

    Bad: When did Columbus first come to the New World?

    Answer: When Queen Isabella financed his voyage (or, In 1492).

    Good: In what year did Columbus first come to the New World?

    Answer: 1492

    The short-answer item also should be structured to avoid unintentional clues:

    Bad: List the three primary colors.

    Good: List each of the primary colors.

    (The term each indicates that all of the primary colors are to be listed, but it does not specify the number of primary colors, thus avoiding an unintentional clue.)

    This page titled 5.2: SHORT ANSWER ITEMS is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Edwin P. Christmann, John L. Badgett, & Mark D. Hogue.

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