If it’s up to the students at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences (BSS), they won’t be sitting as many multiple-choice exams in the future.
Especially the psychology bachelor administers multiple-choice exams often. And that ‘happens more often in psychology departments in Groningen than in other cities’, says Brend Hopman, chair of the student faction on the faculty council. ‘Pedagogical sciences and the teacher training programme also regularly administer multiple-choice exams.’
Hopman feels that this is a problem, because taking exams like these doesn’t properly prepare psychology students for their master. He says that the master programme tests their students differently, by making them answer open questions and write essays. But many students aren’t used to being tested that way.
Recognise the answers
Hopman says that students tend to recognise answers in a multiple-choice exam. ‘But the point is to be able to reproduce what we learned, to apply and evaluate it. Students aren’t doing that right now, which means they’re not properly prepared for their master or for their eventual jobs.’
Klaas van Veen, BSS vice-dean, agrees. He doesn’t think academic testing should be done through multiple-choice exams. ‘We’ve been discussing it internally. There’s nothing wrong with setting a few exams like that to make sure that students have the necessary knowledge. But we’d like to see it as little as possible.’
Van Veen is also aware that lecturers are stressed out and that classes are large, which means it’s easier for them to administer multiple-choice exams. ‘It’s our goal to have diversified exams, but it’s gone a bit awry over the past few years.’ Van Veen says they’re looking into alternatives to multiple-choice exams, ‘such as open questions that students can answer with a single sentence’.
Right now, experts at BSS are figuring out how to do things differently. ‘But that takes time.’ Hopman is glad to hear the faculty board is open to change. ‘It’s been sort of simmering under the surface for years. I think this year is a good time for a breakthrough.’