Creating Essay Questions

these might help in the assignment OR maybe not 

Handout:  Creating Essay Questions (in the attachemnet ) 

Video: Rubrics–An Introduction

Website: Grading and Performance Rubrics (Carnegie Mellon)

Read: Creating a Rubric (in the attachement ) 

OPTIONAL Website: Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom


 #1 Complete Writing Test Assignment 3  

Handout:  Writing Tests Assignment 3-Essay Questions and Rubrics    ( in the attachment) 

2.  Complete the Stop-Start-Continue survey. (

 #2 Forum Discussion

Use the following questions as a starting point for your discussions on essay questions and rubrics.

  • What did you learn that you found interesting about essay questions and/or rubrics?
  • What are advantages and disadvantages of essay questions and rubrics?
  • What, if anything, will you be doing differently as a result of your learning this week?
  • In general, written tests are examples of teacher-centered evaluation.  How might you use essay questions and rubrics in a more learner-centered level 2 evaluation?
  • Anything else you want to mention!


Essay Test Questions and Rubrics

An essay question is a measure of what a student knows as well as a measure of writing ability. Whereas other question types may be better at measure knowledge and facts, because of the open-ended nature of an essay question, essay questions can be more effective measuring more complex, higher levels of understanding than other question types.

Two Types of Essay Questions

1. Restricted-Response Essay Questions limit both the content and the response.

Example restricted-response question:

Why is the barometer one of the most useful instruments for forecasting weather? Answer in a brief paragraph.

Examples of the complex learning outcomes that can be measured with restricted-response essay questions:

· Explain cause-effect relationships.

· Describe applications of principles.

· Present relevant arguments.

· Formulate tenable hypotheses.

· Formulate tenable conclusions.

2. Extended-Response Essay Questions allow students to organize and answer the question with their best judgment, selecting any factual information they think pertinent, and integrating and evaluating ideas as they see appropriate

Example extended-response question:

Describe the influence of Mendel’s laws of heredity on the development of biology as a science.

Examples of the complex learning outcomes that can be measured with extended-response essay questions:

· Produce, organize, and express ideas.

· Integrate learning from different areas.

· Create original form.

· Summarize

· Explain concepts or principles.

· Construct stories, logical trails and/or arguments to persuade a reader.

Guidelines for Writing an Essay Question:

1. In general, restrict the use of essay questions to those learning outcomes that cannot be measured satisfactorily by other means.

2. Construct questions that will draw on the skills specified in the learning objectives.


Write a two-page statement defending the importance of “Avoiding a Head-On Crash.” Your answer will be evaluated in terms of its organization, its comprehensiveness, and the relevance of the arguments presented.

3. Phrase the question so that the student’s task is clearly indicated.

Poor example:

How do you avoid a head-on crash?

Better example:

State three hypotheses that may explain why head-on crashes occur, and describe in detail how these accidents can be avoided. Give reasons why people fail to react defensively.

4. Indicate an approximate time limit for each question so students can pace their responses. (This is also a good way for the instructor to ensure she has allowed enough time for all the questions on the test.)

5. In general, avoid the use of optional questions. For example, do not give students six questions and tell them to answer only the three questions they want to answer. The common basis for evaluating is lost with this method.

6. Typically a rubric is created to score essay questions. (Although rubrics may be used for a variety of assignments in addition to essay questions.)

Sample Questions for higher order thinking and application:

Comparing· Describe the similarities and differences between…· Compare the following two methods for…
Relating cause and effect· What are the major causes of…· What would be the most likely effects of…
Justifying· Which of the following alternatives would you favor, and why?· Explain why you agree or disagree with the following statement…
Summarizing· State the main points included in…· Briefly summarize the contents of…
Generalizing· Formulate several valid generalizations from the following data…· State a set of principles that can explain the following events…
Inferring· In light of the facts presented, what is most likely to happen when…· How would Senator X be likely to react to the following issue…
Explaining· Why did the candle go out shortly after it was covered b the jar?· Explain what President Truman meant when he said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Persuading· Write a letter to the dean to get approval for a change in class size.· Why should the department chair be allowed to decide how the class is to be taught?
Classifying· Group the following items according to…· What do the following items have in common…
Creating· List as many ways as you can think of for…· Make up a story describing what would happen if…
Applying· Using the principle of X as a guide, describe how you would solve the following problem situation…· Describe a situation that illustrates the principle of…
Synthesizing· Describe a plan for proving that…· Write a well-organized report that shows…
Evaluating· Describe the strengths and weaknesses of…· Using the given criteria, write an evaluation of…
Analyzing· Describe the reasoning errors in the following paragraph…· List and describe the main characteristics of…
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