Multiple Choice

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 9:13 PM EST

MULTIPLE CHOICE....Robert Waldmann, who is currently residing in Rome, says he's happy that U.S. students are performing well in the TIMSS test of math and science, but then adds this:

However, I do have to note that the TIMSS test is mostly a multiple choice. Students in the USA have practice with the format. I teach in Italy and I can assure you that Italian students just don't know how to deal with multiple choice questions. It is a specific skill and not really related to knowledge about or understanding of math and science.

It's the italicized part that I'm interested in, not the part about whether multiple choice tests are fundamentally any good. Do Italian students really never take multiple choice tests? How about their equivalent of the SAT? (Do they have such a thing?) Also: Are multiple choice tests rare in the rest of Europe as well? (Perhaps. Here is a professor in London saying that "there is a British antipathy to multiple choice.") Why? And why then did they become so popular in the U.S.? (Don't say NCLB. We've been using them for a lot longer than that.)

Anyway, this is a curious little factoid that I didn't know before, so I thought I'd pass it along.