Essay Items

An essay item requires students to produce a written expression in answer to a question or in response to a prompt. Such an item requires students to (a) recall factual, conceptual, or procedural knowledge; (b) mentally organize this knowledge; and (c) interpret the knowledge and construct it into a logical, integrated response in clear and appropriate language. There are several rules for developing essay items: (a) restrict their use to assess high-level learning outcomes such as creating or evaluating, (b) construct them to measure the skills necessary to achieve the learning outcomes, (c) clearly phrase a question, and (d) indicate response page and time limits if possible.

Essay items differ from selected-response (multiple choice or true/false) items in three ways: (1) More complex learning outcomes, ...

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