Published in 120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings: Atlanta, GA, June 23, 2013.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Steffen Peuker was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
This study aims to compare student performance on introductory engineering statics material by comparing the exam scores of students who are given both multiple choice (MC) questions and constructed response (CR) questions to see whether the type of exam question makes a difference in student performance and understanding. Seventy-five students in an introductory engineering course did either a MC version or a CR version of each statics problem, resulting in MC answers and a control group of CR answers to each statics problem. The students were also polled for feedback regarding their preferences of test question format at the end of the semester. All the exams were graded by one professor, and the results showed little difference between the scores on the MC versus the CR versions of a question. The average score for the MC version was 80%, while the average score for the CR version was 76%. While MC questions may not be appropriate in all circumstances, the high performance on the MC questions, and similar performance on CR questions indicates that not only do students not guess at the answer, but also are able to show understanding of basic statics problems.