Writing Matching Items
Matching items are utilized to measure a studentĀ's understanding of the relationship between similar terms, events, or theorists. Matching items are considered selection assessments, as they require students to identify or recognize the correct association between provided alternatives. In addition, matching items are classified as an objective question type as there is only one correct answer for each premise. In a typical matching item, students are provided a list of brief explanations, descriptions, or definitions (called premises) and are required to match these premises, via factual or logical basis, with the correct alternative (called response) from a second list. The integrative nature of matching items makes them ideal for assessing the ability to discriminate, categorize, and associate among homogeneous concepts. While matching items are often utilized to assess factual knowledge, they are also effective for targeting comprehensive, application, and analysis levels of understanding.
|Allows the comparison of related ideas, concepts, or theories
||Difficult to generate a sufficient number of plausible premises
|Efficient means of assessing the association between a variety of items
within a given topic or category
||Not effective in testing isolated facts or bits of information
|Encourages the integration of information
||May limit assessment to lower levels of understanding
|Preferable item type when multiple-choice assessment repeatedly utilizes
the same response options
||Only useful when there is a sufficient number of related items
|Relatively easy and quick to score
||May overestimate learning due to the influence of guessing
|Objective nature limits bias in scoring
|Easily administered to large numbers of students
|Limits bias caused by poor writing skills
Tips for Writing Matching Items:
- The strength of matching items is their ability to assess the relationship
between homogeneous concepts or terms. Thus, to be most effective, ensure
all premises and responses are members of a similar category or topic.
- To prevent biasing students to the correct association, all premises should
be plausible alternatives for each response. In addition, avoid giving inadvertent
grammatical clues to the correct association between premise and response.
- So that reading skills and memory do not impact the assessment of student
understanding, make premises brief and direct. Generally, premises should
be written as a single short sentence or phrase.
- While the association between premises and responses may be clear to the
test designer, be sure to identify the desired relationship to the student.
Include clear directions that specify the target relationship and guidelines
for matching (whether or not all responses are utilized and whether responses
may be utilized more than once).
- To improve the efficiency of testing, place premises and responses in a
logical order (alphabetic, numerical, chronological, etc.). This will allow
students to easily review items and locate the desired premise or response.
- Because completion of a matching item requires continual comparison and
review, ensure that all matching items appear on the same page.
- Traditionally, premises are listed in a vertical column on the left and
responses in a vertical column on the right. This arrangement allows for ease
of reading and responding.
- Letters or numbers may be used to match the premise to the correct response.
When using letters, direct students to indicate the association in capital
letters; capital letters are more efficient to grade as they are not as visually
similar as lower case letters.
- To limit student arguments and improve item validity, make sure that each
premise has only one correct response (although a response may be used as
the correct answer for more than one premise depending on the design of the
Ideas to Enhance the Effectiveness of Matching Items:
- When the number of premises and responses are equal and each set is a direct
match, students may utilize context clues or a process of elimination to determine
correct associations. To prevent the impact of test-wiseness, utilize an imperfect
match system that includes an uneven number of premises and responses. When
using an imperfect match system, be sure to indicate that some responses may
be used more than once or not at all.
- A special type of matching item is the rearrangement item. When assessing
via a rearrangement item, premises are matched to a limited number of pre-established
categories. This type of assessment allows an instructor to measure the ability
to sort and categorize similar information.
- Another alternative type of matching item is a ranking item in which students
are required to arrange premises according to a specified ranking system.
Ranking systems typically utilize numerical ranks (1st, 2nd,
3rd, etc.) as the responses and measure a studentĀ's ability to
determine the relative ranking between premises.
||Is a matching item an appropriate assessment of the learning objective?
||Does the content of the matching item measure knowledge appropriate to
the desired learning goal?
||Are all premises and responses within a matching item homogeneous?
||Are premises and responses arranged in a logical order?
||Are all premises direct and brief?
||Do instructions clearly specify how premises and responses are to be matched?
- Aiken, L. R. (2000). Psychological Testing and Assessment (10thEdition).
Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Chatterji, M. (2003). Designing and Using Tools for Educational Assessment.
Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Gronlund, N. E. (2003). Assessment of Student Achievement (7thEdition).
Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, R. T. (2002). Meaningful Assessment: A Manageable
and Cooperative Process. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- McKeachie, W. J. (1999). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory
for College and University Teachers (10thEdition). Boston, MA:
Houghton Mifflin Company.
- Popham, W. J. (2000). Modern Educational Measurement: Practical Guidelines
for Educational Leaders (3rdEdition). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Trice, A. D. (2000). A Handbook of Classroom Assessment. New York: Addison
Wesley Longman, Inc.
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