Reflections on Using Open-ended Questions


1 PhD Candidate in Medical Education, Department of Medical Education, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. AND Faculty Member, Department of Pediatric Nursing, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran Medical Sciences, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

2 Paris Nanterre University, Paris, France.

3 MA of Educational Adminstration, Department of Education, Kerman Branch, Kerman, Islamic Azad University, Iran.

4 Department of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



In open-ended questions, unlike closed-ended ones, the learner has to formulate and present the desired answer. One of the important reasons for using open-ended questions over the years is the low probability of guesswork and cheating in this type of question. It is also stated that these questions go beyond testing the memory and can assess the understanding level and problem-solving ability of students. As professors are highly familiar with designing open-ended questions and their ease of design, this type of question has always been popular among evaluators. However, open-ended questions, especially with an extended response, are not welcomed by learners.
Due to the subjective nature of assessing tests and scoring essays, there is a possibility of errors in the process of correcting these questions, including the Hallo effect, Mechanics effect, Order effect, Item-to-item carryover effect, and Test-to-test carryover effect. These errors have to be minimized by measures such as question-by-question correction of all test takers at the same time and without time interval, the anonymity of test sheets, and a scoring rubric. Also, the mentality of the correctors affects the scoring process, reducing the reliability of the test. Answering open-ended questions takes a long time; therefore, fewer questions can be evaluated in each test. This lowers the content validity of tests. Despite the benefits of open-ended questions, they are not suitable for all occasions. In selecting the type of written tests, the homogeneity between the assessment method and the intended educational goal should be considered.