A mixed-methods approach to evaluating student nurses changing answers on multiple choice exams

Rebecca A Cox-Davenport, Paula B Haynes, Theresa G Lawson


Using a mixed methods approach, the purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions and patterns of nursing student’s changing answers on multiple choice exams. The sample of 86 students enrolled in an undergraduate nursing program were surveyed after their first exam of the semester. Exam response forms were examined for erasure marks to determine the answer changes on the exam grade; additionally, the relationship between self-reported school performance and frequency of changing answers, and self-reported anxiety and frequency of changing answers was examined. A qualitative exploration of two open-ended items included examining student perceptions about changing answers on unit exams. Five themes emerged from the qualitative exploration of how students felt about changing test answers: Educated gamble, confidence, anxiety learned, gut instinct and ambivalence.  Three themes emerged from the analysis of the reasons students changed answers: Uncertainty, light bulb effect, and testing errors. The study’s quantitative results indicated that although the student indicated anxiety regarding changing answers, a majority did so anyway. Moreover contrary to students’ negative feelings regarding answer changing, most answer changing resulted in a modest improvement in their grade.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v4n2p132

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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