Assisting Nursing Students through Linguistic Modification of Multiple Choice Questions

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:55 PM

Susan T. Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Kaplan Nursing, Tullahoma, TN

Learning Objective 1: Describe common item writing flaws found in multiple choice questions.

Learning Objective 2: Discuss comparison of student scores before and after review of linguistically modified multiple choice questions.

Background:The difficulties encountered by nursing students to succeed in nursing school are well-documented. Challenges include but are not limited to the lack of financial resources, family pressures including single parent status, and the necessity to work while enrolled as a nursing student. Nursing faculty and students rated “taking multiple choice tests” as the most difficult task in language and culture-related skills encountered in a nursing program (Bosher, 2008).

Nursing students with English as a second language (ESL) and English as an additional language (EAL) encounter all the previously identified challenges and potentially have cultural and language issues as well. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing identifies “there is some relationship between lack of English language proficiency and NCLEX® performance” (NCSBN 2005, p. 245).

Description:Kaplan Nursing enlisted assistance from Dr. Susan Bosher to identify and correct item-writing flaws within multiple choice questions (MCQs). Approximately 1000 multiple choice items were revised using linguistic modification. Nursing students have the opportunity to read the original test item and compare it with the revised item upon review of their practice tests (subject based).  The linguistic modification provided clear, direct and concrete questions and answers.

Outcomes/Implications: Implications for faculty point to an opportunity to revise test items for greater clarity and to reduce the language load of nursing school tests.  Linguistic modification of nursing test items also provides an opportunity for nursing and language faculty to collaborate on the modification of test items.