Item Analysis for Genealogy Teachers

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Is there a difference between genealogy teachers and those other folks who talk at the front of the class?

One critical difference is that teachers evaluate student learnig and student performance carefully to discover learning needs. We front of the room talkers need help with that.

Teachers often use learning activities and assessment tools that have multiple choice options they construct. From my previous life I recognize these tools take real effort to build so that they discrimiate correctly between those who know and those who need to learn. Let’s look at an example from a class quizz summing up a unit on English census.

“The census of 1871 was taken for the night of

[a] 7/8 April [b] 3/4 April [c] 30/31 March [d] 2/3 April

Each of these options should attract some students if they are working. The best students should choose the correct answer [d]. Most of the worst students should select a wrong answer. This should be the pattern for each question in the quiz using a multiple choice format

Questions can be more complex, too.

“Which of these statements about the 1841 census is NOT true?”

[a] The census was taken on the night of 6/7 June.

[b] Only exact ages of children under 14 years are listed

[c] The county of birth is recorded for each person enumerated.
[ d] The census enumerations show the street name for each household
This example can be easy to guess because option [b] does not begin like the others– and its correct. so wording can weaken questions.

The key is to do an item analysis. The website listed below explains the process. Check it out.


I found this with a simple Google search, “test item” analysis. Try it and find lots of other leads.  What do you think? Are you serious enough about teaching tyo do meaningful appraisals of student entry and exit competencies and or performance?


One response to “Item Analysis for Genealogy Teachers

  1. I used to encourage future teachers to use item analysis–and used it on my own written exams. It can identify a poorly written question and it can also identify a gap in teaching–a place where the students just don’t get it. It’s good feedback if the teacher gives written tests.

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