A single question or task that is not often broken down into any smaller units. (Bean, 1953:15)
EXAMPLE: An arithmetical mean may be an item, a manipulative task may be an item, a mechanical puzzle may be an item and likewise sleeplessness may also be an item of a test.
Items in a test are just like atoms in a matter that is they are indivisible.
The second step in item writing is the preparation of the items of test. Item writing starts with the planning done earlier. If the test constructor decides to prepare an essay test, then the essay items are written down. However, if he decide to construct an objective test, he writes down the objective items such as the alternative response item, matching item, multiple choice item, completion item, short answer item, pictorial form of item, etc. Depending upon the purpose, he decides to write any of these objective type of items.
PREREQUISITES FOR ITEM WRITING:
Item writing is essentially a creative art. There are no set rules to guide and guarantee writing of good items. A lot depends upon the item writer’s intuition, imagination, experience, practice and ingenuity. However there are some essential prerequisites which must be met if the item writer wants to write good and appropriate items. These requirements are briefly discussed as follows;
• Command on the subject matter:
The item writer must have a thorough knowledge and complete mastery of the subject matter. In other words, he must be fully acquainted with all facts, principles, misconceptions, Fallacies in a particular field so that he may be able to write good and appropriate items.
• Fully aware of the population:
The item writer must be fully aware of those persons for whom the test is meant. He must also be aware of the intelligence level of those persons so that he may manipulate the difficulty level of the items for proper adjustment with their ability level. He must also be able to avoid irrelevant clues to correct responses.
• Familiarity with different types of items:
The item writer must be familiar with different types of items along with their advantages and disadvantages. He must also be aware of the characteristics of good items and the common probable errors in writing items.
• Command on language:
The item writer must have a large vocabulary. He must know the different meanings of a word so that confusion in writing the items may be avoided. He must be able to convey the meaning of the items in the simplest possible language.
• Expert opinion:
After writing down the items, they must be submitted to a group of subject experts for their criticism or suggestions, which must then be duly modified.
• Cultivate a rich source of ideas:
The item writer must also cultivate a rich source of ideas for items. This is because ideas are not produced in mind automatically but rather require certain factors or stimuli. The common source of such factors are textbooks, Journals, discussions, questions for interview, coarse outlines and other instructional materials.
Characteristics of a good item:
An item must have the following characteristics;
An item should be phrased in such a manner that there is no ambiguity regarding its meaning for both the item writer as well as the examinees who take the test.
• Moderately difficult:
The item should not be too easy or too difficult.
• Discriminating power:
It must have discriminating power, it must clearly distinguish between those who possess the trait and those who do not.
• To the point:
It should not be concerned with the trivial aspects of the subject matter, that is, it must only measure the significant aspects of knowledge or understanding.
• Not encourage guesswork:
As far as possible, it should not encourage guesswork by the subjects.
• Clear in reading:
It should not present any difficulty in reading.
• Independent for its meaning:
It should not be such that its meaning is dependent upon another item and/or it can be answered by referring to another item.
General guidelines for item writing:
Writing item is a matter of precision. It is perhaps more like computer programming than writing a prose. The task of the item writer is to focus the attention of a large group of examinees, varying in background experience, environmental exposure and ability level on a single idea. Such a situation requires extreme care in choice of words. The item writer must keep in view some general guidelines which are essential for writing good items. These are listed as under;
Clarity of the items:
Clarity in writing test item is one of the main requirement for an item to be considered good. Items must not be written as “verbal puzzles”. They must be able to discriminate between those who are competent and those who are not. This is possible only when the items have been written in a simple and clear language. The items must not be test of examinee’s ability to understand the language. The item writer should be very cautious particularly in writing the objective items because each such item provides more or less an isolated bit of knowledge and there the problem of clarity is more serious. If the objective item is a vague one, it will create difficulty in understanding and the validity of item will be adversely affected. Vagueness in writing items may be because of several reasons such as poor thinking and incompetence of the item writer.
Non-functional words should be avoided:
Non-functional words must not be included in the items as they tend to lower the validity of the item. Non-functional words refer to those words which make no contribution towards the appropriate and correct choice of a response by the examinees. Such words are often included by the item writer in an attempt to make the correct answer less obvious or to provide a good distractor.
Avoid irrelevant accuracies:
The item writer must make sure that irrelevant accuracies unintentionally incorporated in the items, are avoided. Such irrelevant accuracies reflect th poor critical ability to think on the part of the item writer. They may also lead the examinees to think that the statement is true.
Difficulty level should be adaptable:
The item must not be too easy or too difficult for the examinees. The level of difficulty of the item should be adoptable to the level of understanding of the examinees. Although it is a fact that exact decision regarding the difficulty value of an item can be taken only after some statistical techniques have been employed, yet an experienced item writer is capable of controlling the difficulty value beforehand and making it adoptable to the examinees. In certain forms of objective type items such as multiple choice-items and matching items, it is very easy to increase or decrease the difficulty value of the item. In general, when the response alternatives are made homogenous, the difficulty value of the item is increased but when the response alternatives are made heterogeneous, except the correct alternative, the examinee is likely to choose the correct answer soon and thus, the level of difficulty is decreased. The item writer must keep in view the characteristics of both the ideal examinees as well as the typical examinees. If he keeps the typical examinees (who are fewer in number) in view and ignore the ideal examinees, the test items are likely to be unreasonably difficult ones.
Stereotyped words should be avoided:
Use of stereotyped words either in the stem or in the alternative responses must be avoided because these facilitate rote learners in guessing the correct answer. Moreover, such stereotyped words failed to discriminate between those who really know and understand the subject and those who do not. Thus, stereotyped words do not provide an adequate and discriminatory measure of index. The most obvious way of getting rid of search such word is to paraphrase the words in a different manner so that those who really know the answer can pick up the meaning.
Irrelevant clues must be avoided:
Irrelevant clues must be avoided. These are sometimes provided in several forms such as clang association, verbal association, length of the answer, keeping a different foil among homogenous foils, giving the same order of the correct answer, etc. In general, such clues tend to decrease the difficulty level of the item because they provide an easy route to the correct answer. The common observation is that the examinees who don not now the correct answer, choose any of these irrelevant clues and answer on that basis. The item writer must therefore, take special care to avoid such irrelevant clues. Specific determiners like never, always, all, none must also be avoid because they are also irrelevant clues to the correct answer, especially in the two-alternative items.
Interlocking items must be avoided:
Interlocking items must be avoided. Interlocking items, also known as interdependent items, are items that can be answered only by referring to other items. In other words, when responding correctly to an item is dependent upon the correct response of any other item, the item constitutes an example of an interlocking or independent item.
The above examples illustrate the interlocking items. Answer to items 2 and 3 only be given when the examinee knows the correct answer of item 1. Such items should be avoided because they do not provide and equal chance examinees to answer the item.
Number of items:
The item writer is also frequently faced with the problem of determining the exact number of items. As a matter of fact, there is no hard and fast rule regarding this. Previous studies have shown that the number of items I usually linked with the desired level of reliability coefficient of the test. Studies have revealed that usually 25-30 dichotomous items are needed to have the reliability coefficient as high as 0.80 whereas 15-20 items needed to reach the same level of reliability when multipoint items are used.
These are the minimum number of items which should be retained after item analysis. An item writer should always write almost twice the number of items to be retained finally. Thus, if he wants 30 items in the final test, he should write 60 items.
In the speed test, the number of items to be written is entirely dependent upon the intuitive judgment of the test constructor. On the basis of his previous experiences, he decides that a certain number of items can be answered with the given time limit.
Arrangements of items:
After the items have been written down, they are reviewed by some experts are by the item writer himself and then arranged in the order in which they are to appear in the final test. Generally, items are arranged in an increasing order of difficult those having the same form (say alternative form, matching, multiple-choice, etc.) and dealing with same contents are placed together.
Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as the emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event. While trauma is a normal reaction to a horrible event, the effects can be so severe that they interfere with an individual’s ability to live a normal life. In a case such as this, help may be needed to treat the stress and dysfunction caused by the traumatic event and to restore the individual to a state of emotional well-being.
Trauma can be caused by an overwhelmingly negative event that causes a lasting impact on the victim’s mental and emotional stability. While many sources of trauma are physically violent in nature, others are psychological. Some common sources of trauma include:
• Domestic violence
• Natural disasters
• Severe illness or injury
• The death of a loved one
• Witnessing an act of violence
Trauma is often but not always associated with being present at the site of a trauma-inducing event. It is also possible to sustain trauma after witnessing something from a distance. Young children are especially vulnerable to trauma and should be psychologically examined after a traumatic event has occurred to ensure their emotional well-being.
While the causes and symptoms of trauma are various, there are some basic signs of trauma that you can look out for. People who have endured traumatic events will often appear shaken and disoriented. They may not respond to conversation as they normally would and will often appear withdrawn or not present even when speaking.
Emotional Symptoms of Trauma
Emotion is one of the most common ways in which trauma manifests. Some common emotional symptoms of trauma include denial, anger, sadness and emotional outbursts. Victim of trauma may redirect the overwhelming emotions they experience toward other sources, such as friends or family members. This is one of the reasons why trauma is difficult for loved ones as well. It is hard to help someone who pushes you away, but understanding the emotional symptoms that come after a traumatic event can help ease the process.
Physical Symptoms of Trauma
Trauma often manifests physically as well as emotionally. Some common physical signs of trauma include paleness, lethargy, fatigue, poor concentration and a racing heartbeat. The victim may have anxiety or panic attacks and be unable to cope in certain circumstances. The physical symptoms of trauma can be as real and alarming as those of physical injury or illness, and care should be taken to manage stress levels after a traumatic event.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Trauma
All effects of trauma can take place either over a short period of time or over the course of weeks or even years. Any effects of trauma should be addressed immediately to prevent permanence. The sooner the trauma is addressed, the better chance a victim has of recovering successfully and fully. Short-term and long-term effects of trauma can be similar, but long-term effects are generally more severe. Short-term mood changes are fairly normal after trauma, but if the shifts in mood last for longer than a few weeks, a long-term effect can occur.
Depression and Trauma
Depression and trauma have high comorbidity rates, and feelings of despair, malaise and sadness can last longer than a few days or even weeks. When a trauma occurs, post-traumatic stress disorder often occurs. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that depression is between three to five times more likely to occur in trauma victims who develop PTSD than in the general population.
Addiction and Trauma
When the symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety become too much to cope with through normal means, many victims of trauma turn to substance abuse. As mentioned, victims are much more likely to develop addictions than other members of the general population. It is essential for the loved ones of a trauma victim to look out for the symptoms of addiction after trauma, even if the addiction is the only outward sign of PTSD.
Many researchers studied the construct of trauma experienced by adults and the contributing to this and effecting it. A research conducted by Verónica Vitriol aimed to study the risk factors that explain the relation between depression and psychological trauma among adults. The results indicated the high prevalence of childhood trauma, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, in patients who are in treatment for depression at public mental health services.