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On the strategic equivalence of multiple-choice test scoring rules

  • Espinosa Alejos, María Paz
  • Gardeazabal, Javier

A disadvantage of multiple-choice tests is that students have incentives to guess. To discourage guessing, it is common to use scoring rules that either penalize wrong answers or reward omissions. These scoring rules are considered equivalent in psychometrics, although experimental evidence has not always been consistent with this claim. We model students' decisions and show, first, that equivalence holds only under risk neutrality and, second, that the two rules can be modified so that they become equivalent even under risk aversion. This paper presents the results of a field experiment in which we analyze the decisions of subjects taking multiple-choice exams. The evidence suggests that differences between scoring rules are due to risk aversion as theory predicts. We also find that the number of omitted items depends on the scoring rule, knowledge, gender and other covariates.

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Paper provided by University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II in its series DFAEII Working Papers with number 2005-20.

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Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehu:dfaeii:200520
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Order Information: Postal: Dpto. de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico II, = Facultad de CC. Económicas y Empresariales, Universidad del País Vasco, Avda. Lehendakari Aguirre 83, 48015 Bilbao, Spain

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  1. Haigh, Michael S. & List, John A., 2002. "Do Professional Traders Exhibit Myopic Loss Aversion? An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 28554, University of Maryland, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  2. Suzanne Scotchmer, 2008. "Risk Taking and Gender in Hierarchies," NBER Working Papers 14464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Becker, William E & Johnston, Carol, 1999. "The Relationship between Multiple Choice and Essay Response Questions in Assessing Economics Understanding," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(231), pages 348-57, December.
  4. Bram Cadsby, C. & Maynes, Elizabeth, 2005. "Gender, risk aversion, and the drawing power of equilibrium in an experimental corporate takeover game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 39-59, January.
  5. Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Gardeazabal, Javier, 2007. "Optimal Correction for Guessing in Multiple-Choice Tests," DFAEII Working Papers 2007-08, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  6. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  7. Marco Haan & Bart Los & Yohanes Riyanto & Martin van Geest, 2002. "The Weakest Link - A Field Experiment in Rational Decision Making," Experimental 0203001, EconWPA.
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