Education research: partial credit for multiple-choice questions (PCMC) student attitudes (Fall semester 2010)

Starting Fall semester 2008 and continuing through Fall semester 2010, Cuesta College students taking Astronomy 210 (introductory astronomy) at Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA have piloted the use of partial credit for multiple-choice (PCMC) questions.

During the ninth week of instruction (after taking four multiple-choice question quizzes, and a midterm with multiple-choice questions and short-answer/essay questions), students were given the opportunity to evaluate PCMC in an online "Partial Credit for Multiple-Choice (PCMC) Survey" hosted by SurveyMonkey.com.

These are the complete survey results. Analysis will be forthcoming after more data has been compiled from future semesters. Values for the mean and standard deviations are given next to the modal response category for each question. Note that the order of questions within sections II and III were randomly scrambled for each student.
Partial Credit for Multiple-Choice Survey
Cuesta College
Astronomy 210 Fall Semester 2010 sections 70158, 70160
(N = 45)

I. In order to receive credit for completing this survey,
first enter your first and last name below:

II. Recall that for this semester there is PCMC = "partial
credit for multiple choice," where you can get partial
credit even after circling a wrong answer, if you have
also eliminated an incorrect answer by marking it with
an "x."
Answer the following statements which may or may not
describe your beliefs about PCMC in this class.
Because of PCMC...

II.1 ...I read questions more carefully.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 0 :
3. Neutral 11 : ***********
4. Agree 24 : ************************ [4.0 +/- 0.7]
5. Strongly agree 10 : **********

II.2 ...I spend more time taking a test.
1. Strongly disagree 2 : **
2. Disagree 14 : **************
3. Neutral 10 : ********** [3.1 +/- 1.1]
4. Agree 15 : ***************
5. Strongly agree 4 : ****

II.3 ...I feel more confident about circling a correct choice.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 1 : *
3. Neutral 13 : *************
4. Agree 24 : ************************ [3.8 +/- 0.7]
5. Strongly agree 7 : *******

II.4 ...I look for incorrect choices before circling a correct choice.
1. Strongly disagree 1 : *
2. Disagree 6 : ******
3. Neutral 10 : **********
4. Agree 21 : ********************* [3.6 +/- 1.0]
5. Strongly agree 7 : *******

III. Answer the following statements which may or may not describe
your beliefs about PCMC in this class.

III.1 PCMC helped me answer test questions better.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 1 : *
3. Neutral 17 : *****************
4. Agree 21 : ********************* [3.7 +/- 0.7]
5. Strongly agree 6 : ******

III.2 I would recommend using PCMC in future semesters of this class.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 0 :
3. Neutral 1 : *
4. Agree 27 : *************************** [4.4 +/- 0.5]
5. Strongly agree 17 : *****************

III.3 Having PCMC a positive experience.
1. Strongly disagree 0 :
2. Disagree 0 :
3. Neutral 4 : ****
4. Agree 32 : ******************************** [4.1 +/- 0.5]
5. Strongly agree 9 : *********

III.4 Using PCMC was difficult.
1. Strongly disagree 19 : ******************* [1.7 +/- 2.8]
2. Disagree 22 : **********************
3. Neutral 3 : ***
4. Agree 1 : *
5. Strongly agree 0 :

III.5 I would identify incorrect choices even without PCMC.
1. Strongly disagree 1 : *
2. Disagree 5 : *****
3. Neutral 17 : *****************
4. Agree 17 : ***************** [3.4 +/- 0.9]
5. Strongly agree 5 : *****

IV. (Optional.) Please type in any comments you may have regarding
the use of PCMC in this class.
The following are all of the student responses to this question, verbatim and unedited.
"I think it's a nice way to get at least some credit, even if you don't know the answer for sure."

"I don't think using PCMC necessarily helped me answer any questions better or improved my test taking skills, but it is really nice to get that partial credit which I think is the most positive outcome of using it. Its really hard sometimes on the quizzes because each question is worth so many points so if you get even one wrong, it drops your grade a lot. So having the option and opportunity for extra points helps a lot."

"It can cause confusion."

"I like the idea of still being able to get some credit for knowing which answers aren't correct, even if you might not get the right answer."

"I like knowing that even if I answer a question wrong I have a chance of recieving credit for the amount of inforation that I 'do' know."

"I think it is useful because even if you don't get the answer right you can cross out one's you know that are wrong."

"I think it is helpful to look out for wrong answers which can move you towards the right answer if you are unsure of the right answer."

"I think PCMC is a very fair way of grading tests. You are a least rewarded for identifying the wrong answer"


"I like it....a lot."

"like it :)"

"Great Job P-DAWGGGG!!!!!"

"I think its nice because its makes you feel better. 0 points for a question just sucks!"

"PCMC makes you feel more confident after taking a test knowing you get at least some credit for knowing a wrong answer"

"What made you choose PCMC?"

"Its a good way to receive partial credit even if you dont know the correct answer"

"I like this idea, it reinforces the fact that even though you do not know the correct answer, you still have an idea about what it could (or could not) be."

"I think it is a good idea because even if a student gets the wrong answer they can prove that know a little about subject by crossing out an answer they know is FOR SURE not correct (and the fact that partial credit is offered proves that underneath all that thuggish roughness P-dawg has a kind heart)"

"It helps, but it makes you think a little harder than you would normally."

"I like the PCMC because it helps acknowledge that i do know enough about the question to eliminate answers that are wrong and i can get a little credit for that."

"I just had trouble with figuring out how it works in the beginning--that we have to pick the correct answer AND cross out one incorrect answer---I thought at first that if you dont know the answer, you can cross out the one that is definitely incorrect..."

"Even though credit is minimal for PCMC it's still satisfying to earn that extra half point! haha"

"I really liked PCMC. They really help."

"I love PCMC!!"

"Good system, adds a little bit of wiggle-room and forgiveness on tests and quizes."

"i love it"

"I appreciate the partial credit for multiple choice because it helps improve my grade on quizzes/exams."

"From my experience with PCMC, it works fine because its partial credit that you can earn even if you get a question wrong. "

"With that you have a better chance of earning partial credit along with the points for the correct answer if one answers the correct answer"

"PCMC is good for partial credit on multiple choice questions, but it hasn't really helped me answer questions any easier. Usually its really easy to eliminate one choice anyway."

"Receiving partial credit for eliminating an obviously wrong answer is a great idea, and should be implemented more often. It's almost a form of reverse learning, in which we can identify what is at least closer to correct when throwing out one answer, and I like that. PCMC gives a student the opportunity to reinforce their own mental process of elimination, and answer things more confidently."

"in the beginning it sometimes throws you off."

"its a really good idea i wish more classes used this"

"i think the PCMC almost makes the tests too easy, because even when i get an answer wrong i get points which allows me to get a much higher grade than i normally would have."

"It's a nice safety net of sorts if you miss something while studying for a test/quiz"

"It's a great way for students to learn better by identifying and using process of elimination to get closer to the answers."

"I like having the opportunity to be able to get partial credit for a wrong answer."

"I think we should get at least a full point for pcmc instead of only half a point."

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