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Impact of different scoring algorithms applied to multiple-mark survey items on outcome assessment: an in-field study on health-related knowledge.

Domnich, A; Panatto, D; Arata, L; Bevilacqua, I; Apprato, L; Gasparini, R; Amicizia, D.
J Prev Med Hyg ; 56(4): E162-71, 2015.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26900331


Health-related knowledge is often assessed through multiple-choice tests. Among the different types of formats, researchers may opt to use multiple-mark items, i.e. with more than one correct answer. Although multiple-mark items have long been used in the academic setting - sometimes with scant or inconclusive results - little is known about the implementation of this format in research on in-field health education and promotion.


A study population of secondary school students completed a survey on nutrition-related knowledge, followed by a single- lecture intervention. Answers were scored by means of eight different scoring algorithms and analyzed from the perspective of classical test theory. The same survey was re-administered to a sample of the students in order to evaluate the short-term change in their knowledge.


In all, 286 questionnaires were analyzed. Partial scoring algorithms displayed better psychometric characteristics than the dichotomous rule. In particular, the algorithm proposed by Ripkey and the balanced rule showed greater internal consistency and relative efficiency in scoring multiple-mark items. A penalizing algorithm in which the proportion of marked distracters was subtracted from that of marked correct answers was the only one that highlighted a significant difference in performance between natives and immigrants, probably owing to its slightly better discriminatory ability. This algorithm was also associated with the largest effect size in the pre-/post-intervention score change.


The choice of an appropriate rule for scoring multiple- mark items in research on health education and promotion should consider not only the psychometric properties of single algorithms but also the study aims and outcomes, since scoring rules differ in terms of biasness, reliability, difficulty, sensitivity to guessing and discrimination.