Assessment Strategies for a History Exam, or, Why Short-Answer Questions are Better than In-Class Essays

Maxwell, Alexander
February 2010
History Teacher;Feb2010, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p233
Academic Journal
This article discusses why in-class essays are ineffective at assessing student abilities in history exams. The article recommends the use of questions that require short answers to test objective knowledge. Objective knowledge is defined by the American Historical Association as the ability to identify concepts, historical actors, organizations and events. Although essays as history assignments are valuable teaching and learning tools, in-class essays have dubious value. Essay grades are subject to the subjective views of the reader, and studies have shown that the same reader will assign different scores to the same paper on different occasions.


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