Effect of Faculty Training on Quality of Multiple-Choice Questions

Int J Appl Basic Med Res. Jul-Sep 2020;10(3):210-214. doi: 10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_30_20. Epub 2020 Jul 11.


Background: Multiple-choice question (MCQ) is frequently used assessment tool in medical education, both for certification and competitive examinations. Ill-constructed MCQs impact the utility of the assessment and thus the fate of examinee. We conducted this study to ascertain whether a short training session for faculty on MCQ writing results in desired improvement in their item-writing skills.

Methods: A 1-day workshop on constructing high-quality MCQs was conducted for the faculty as a before-after design, following training session of 3 h duration. 28 participants wrote preworkshop (n = 133) and postworkshop (n = 137) MCQs, which were analyzed and compared for 17 item-writing flaws. A mock test of 100 MCQs (selected by stratified random sampling from all the MCQs generated during the workshop) was conducted for MBBS-passed students for item analysis.

Results: Item-writing flaws reduced following the training (15% vs. 27.7%, P < 0.05). Improvement mainly occurred in quality of options; heterogeneity dropped from 27.1% prior to the workshop to 5.8% postworkshop. The proportion of MCQs failing the cover test remained similarly high (68.4% vs. 60.6%), and there was no improvement in writing of the stem before and after the workshop. The item analysis did not reveal any significant improvement in facility value, discriminating index, and proportion of nonfunctioning distractors.

Conclusion: A single, short-duration faculty training session is not good enough to correct flaws in writing of the MCQs. There is a need of focused training of the faculty in MCQ writing. Courses with a longer duration, supplemented by repeated or continuous faculty development programs, need to be explored.

Keywords: Faculty training; multiple-choice questions; quality of multiple-choice questions.