Article | Origin of the MCQ
The article starts with, “I don’t need to tell you, but the United States is one of the most tested countries in the world, and the weapon of choice is the multiple-choice test.”. To start with, if you are an Indian teacher or a parent would you disagree with the first part? It’s easy enough to agree that Indian institutions of learning don’t employ the multiple-choice test as the weapon of choice, yet, it seems to me that there’s too much of testing and focus on exams in India than any other country.
I’d be happy to be wrong.
The article we are discussing however, is not about that – it is about the origin of the Multiple-choice test.
“Multiple-choice tests had their origin in World War I, when Dr. Robert Yerkes, President of the American Psychological Association (APA), convinced the Army to commission them to test the intelligence of recruits. The Army’s goal was to improve the efficiency of evaluating men by moving away from time-consuming written and oral examinations. Yerkes’ motives were to make psychiatry a more scientific field and move it away from its affiliation with philosophy.”
A while ago, we had discussed the use of learning objectives and their place in empowering and designing learning, and therefore assessing learning. Whatever the origins of a format of a test may be, the purpose of the assessment should be the first consideration, the format, the second.