Dr. Melissa Lantta Gives Grand Rounds On Writing Effective Test Questions

Posted on March 2014

Melissa Lantta, Ph.D., Education Coordinator for the Department of Radiology, presented a series of two talks as a Grand Rounds lecturer aimed at highlighting challenges and improvement strategies for test writing and taking, a task UW radiologists often face in their teaching capacities.

In her first lecture, Dr. Lantta tackled the key components of a good multiple choice question. Well-written multiple choice questions avoid negative words such as “not” or “never”, are grammatically consistent, and focus on measuring more than just knowledge of facts. A properly written multiple choice question is more efficient for students during the test-taking experience, and can also help the instructor identify common areas of misunderstanding and subsequently revise lecture content, Dr. Lantta said.

In her second lecture, Dr. Lantta provided listeners with helpful keywords to measure knowledge, comprehension, analysis, and more. “What behaviors do you want your learners to show to you?” Dr. Lantta asked. By using specific vocabulary in directions and questions, instructors can establish clear objectives for their students. Examples of direct and concrete keywords include describe, define, diagram, contrast, outline, and many more.

“In particular, I appreciated the sample words to guide questions for various levels of the learning triangle,” said Jessica Robbins, M.D., who attended the sessions. “[Dr. Lantta] provided a great summary on how to write effective questions and provided great resources.”