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Comparing Comprehension Measured by Multiple-Choice and Open-Ended Questions
Psychology Faculty Publications
  • Yasuhiro Ozuru, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • Stephen W. Briner, Sacred Heart University
  • Christopher A. Kurby, Grand Valley State University
  • Danielle S. McNamara, Arizona State University
Document Type
Peer-Reviewed Article
Publication Date

This study compared the nature of text comprehension as measured by multiple-choice format and open-ended format questions. Participants read a short text while explaining preselected sentences. After reading the text, participants answered open-ended and multiple-choice versions of the same questions based on their memory of the text content. The results indicated that performance on open-ended questions was correlated with the quality of self-explanations, but performance on multiple-choice questions was correlated with the level of prior knowledge related to the text. These results suggest that open-ended and multiple-choice format questions measure different aspects of comprehension processes. The results are discussed in terms of dual process theories of text comprehension.


At the time of publication Stephen Briner was affiliated with University of Illinois at Chicago.

PubMed ID
Citation Information
Ozuru, Y., Briner, S., Kurby, C. A., & McNamara, D. S. (2013). Comparing comprehension measured by multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology/Revue canadienne de psychologie expérimentale, 67(3), 215-227.