Date of Award

Fall 2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Marilyn M. Tremaine

Second Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Third Advisor

Michael Bieber

Fourth Advisor

Katia Passerini

Fifth Advisor

Rachelle S. Heller

Abstract

This dissertation sought to answer the question: Is it possible to build a software tool that will allow teachers to write better multiple-choice questions? The thesis proceeded from the finding that the quality of teaching is very influential in the amount that students learn. A basic premise of this research, then, is that improving teachers will improve learning. With this foundation, the next question became what area of teaching to improve. The literature on educational assessment indicated that teachers lack competence at effective assessment, particularly in the area of multiple-choice question generation. It is likely that improvement in this area would yield large gains in educational achievement by students.

Several areas of literature including teacher professional development, modification of health-related behaviors, and the information systems theories of captology and structuration theory were synthesized to develop a general model for designing systems to foster teacher professional development. This model was then applied to design and build a tool, QuesGen a web-based system to help teachers write better multiple-choice questions. The tool was evaluated. Quantitative and qualitative results are presented, their implications discussed, and future steps are laid out.

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