Fairness of Items (FIT) tool for multiple choice exams

Pearls of wisdom from the STTI 43rd Biennial Convention

My series of posts on the recent STTI Biennial continues with a summary of Nikole Hicks’ presentation titled,

“Are Your Multiple-Choice Tests “FIT”?  Using the Fairness of Items Tool (FIT as a Component of the Test Development Process”

In short, Nikole did an exhaustive review of the literature to learn about best practices in test item writing with a focus on nursing education.  She distilled the guidelines into 38 criteria to determine whether a single multiple choice test question is fair and unbiased.  She rigorously tested her FIT tool with nursing faculty and found it to be valid and reliable.  Read the full description of her study background, methodology, results and conclusions on the STTI conference web site.

Her list of 38 criteria can be used to evaluate a single multiple-choice test question, or they can be used to guide test question writing.  They are divided into four categories:

  • evaluate the stem
  • evaluate the options
  • linguistic/structural bias
  • cultural bias

The criteria include recommendations regarding how many distracters to include, words and phrases to avoid, and page formatting, among many other things.  She recommends that nurse educators use the FIT tool to write original questions and revise publisher test bank questions to improve student success and better prepare students for licensure exams.

I found Nikole’s presentation to be very interesting, and the tool has the potential to be very useful in ensuring fairness of multiple choice exams.  Many thanks to Nikole for doing the work of combing through the extensive body of literature to condense item-writing best practices into a practical set of guidelines we can really use.   I have permission from Nikole to share the tool with OSU College of Nursing faculty, and I plan to offer a Flash Friday session on the tool in the spring semester.