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Assessment: Completion questions

Developing completion/fill-in-the-blank questions

Completion questions require a student to complete a statement that is missing one or more key elements (words, phrases, numbers, etc.). Similar to matching and true/false, completion questions are considered better for assessing lower levels of cognition, and are best to check whether key facts have been memorized. However, unlike these other question types, completion questions rely more heavily on recall than recognition. Thus, compared to forced-choice question types (e.g., multiple choice, true/false), the potential for guessing the correct answer is reduced. However, scoring completion items is difficult to automate, and thus marking can be time consuming relative to some question types.

Tips for developing completion/fill-in-the-blank

  1. Ensure blank spaces are the same length. Test-designers may unintentionally provide students with clues if blanks vary in length. Consider providing a uniform column to the right of the question in which students can record answers.
  2. Structure fill-in-the-blank questions such that the blank comes at the end of the statement. This enhances readability and can reduce confusion.
  3. Ensure that each blank corresponds to only one correct answer. This reduces marking time.
  4. Avoid using more than two blanks per item to reduce ambiguity and confusion.
  5. Avoid copying text directly from a textbook to construct the question. This can lead to an emphasis on trivia and encourage memorization.