Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Badly Written Questions – I

Also posted over at Paramedicine 101. Go check out the rest of what is there.

Since there seems to be a desire to focus more on the basics, I thought I would address test taking in the various EMS classes.

According to some instructors, there are no badly written questions. There is always one best, right answer to these questions.

There is one right response to that statement and it is not very polite. OK. There are many possible responses. They are not all impolite, but they should all disagree with the statement.

The people who defend badly written questions, even just disputed questions, are the people who are destroying EMS education.

First, we need to admit that there are badly written questions. Not only are they badly written, but they reteach the material, and they do it in a way that is misleading.

Are badly written questions useless?

Not at all. Badly written questions can be very useful. They are a great opportunity to have a discussion, whether with the entire class, a part of the class, or just an individual, about what is wrong with the question and why.

This is an opportunity to improve the understanding of the students, and maybe the instructor. Passing up this opportunity and defending the question is abandoning our students, just as we might abandon a patient.

Disputed questions may be written intentionally to stir up debate, but they are only useful on a quiz, when you can devote a part of class, or an entire class, to the discussion.

Most of these badly written questions seem to be multiple choice questions. Many are on course completion exams. There will be no further classes, unless the student retakes the class.

Determining whether someone passes a course, based upon a multiple choice exam, is one of the more idiotic things we do in EMS.

The ability to recognize the correct answer – correct according to the person who wrote the test – is not even close to being the same as understanding the material.

The ability to recognize that same correct answer, has nothing top do with competence.