Predicting success in introductory psychology from early testing: High consistency and low trajectory in multiple-choice test performance

Richard W. Bowen*, Jana M. Wingo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introductory Psychology students in large lecture classes are likely to be evaluated based on performance on multiple-choice tests. The multiplechoice test format is favored for its efficiency, ease of administration and scoring and psychometric strength. We found a significant performance consistency across four successive multiple-choice tests in a university Introductory Psychology course. Participants (n = 458 in three classes) took four 75-item multiple-choice tests in the course, each test covering different course content. Student performance on Test 1 in Introductory Psychology was a surprisingly powerful early predictor of overall performance on the remaining three tests in the course. Furthermore, scores on all four tests were significantly inter-correlated, indicating high performance consistency throughout the course. Hierarchical linear modeling also revealed that this performance consistency was accompanied by a small positive performance trajectory (3.6%) over the four tests. We also found that even performance on an unannounced 10- item quiz prior to the first test was a significant predictor of final overall performance on all four tests. The high consistency and low trajectory of performance on multiple-choice tests have implications both for strategic planning of multiple-choice testing in large introductory survey courses and for managing students' expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-434
Number of pages16
JournalNorth American Journal of Psychology
Volume14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)

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