A closer look at cueing effects in multiple-choice questions

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This study investigates the cueing effect occurring in multiple choice questions. Two parallel tests with matching contents were administered. By means of a computer program, examinees of different training levels and professional expertise were presented the same set of 35 cases (derived from patient problems in general practice) twice. The first time the cases were linked to open-ended questions; the second time they were linked to multiple choice questions. The examinees consisted of 75 medical students from three different years of training, 25 residents in training for general practice and 25 experienced general practitioners. Across groups, total test scores reflected a difference in mean scores on both formats, and a high interest correlation. Within each level of expertise, differences in mean scores and high correlations were also found. The data were further explored per group of examinees. Two types of cueing effects were found: positive cueing (examinees were cued towards the correct answer) and negative cueing (examinees were cued towards an incorrect answer). These effects were found at all levels of expertise and in almost all items. However, both effects decline with increasing level of expertise. Positive cueing mainly occurs in difficult items, whereas negative cueing mainly occurs in easy items.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
JournalMedical Education
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996


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