Multiple-Choice can be a Solid Choice



With a move to standards based assessments, there is often a perception that everything must have a rubric and that multiple-choice questions are a big no-no.  This is a misconception.  Selected response questions are very appropriate for knowledge learning targets.

Once you determine that selected response is an appropriate way to collect evidence of student learning, there are several things you should consider.

 

Tips for writing effective multiple choice questions:

Don’t include irrelevant information in the question stem

Avoid negative wording (Which of the following is NOT a cause of global warming?)

All answer choices should be a plausible choice – there should be no “throw-aways”

Don’t include silly or nonsensical options. An analysis of incorrect student responses should provide you with an accurate understanding of student misconceptions and help you to target re-teaching

Avoid using always, never, none, and all

Make sure the answer choices match up grammatically with the question stem

Avoid using “all of the above” and “none of the above”

 

You CAN assess higher level thinking with Multiple Choice Questions

 

Knowledge – questions written at this level ask students to remember factual knowledge. The outcome is for students is usually to identify the meaning of a term or the order of events. Examples questions are:

What is…?

Who were the main…?

Which one…?

Why did…?

 

Comprehension – questions written at this level require students to do more than memorize information in order to answer correctly. This level asks for basic knowledge to be used in context. The outcome for students might be to interpret ideas or to identify an example of a term, concept, or principle. Example questions are:

Which of the following is an example of…?

What is the main idea of…?

How can you summarize…?

 

Application – questions written at this level require students to recognize a problem or discrepancy. The outcome is for students to distinguish between two items or identify how concepts are related. Example questions are:

What can result if…?

How can you organize ___ to show ___?

How can you use…?

What is the best approach to…?

 

Analysis – questions written at this level requires students to break down material into its component parts and identify the parts and the relationships between them.  The outcome is for students to recognize and analyze patterns or trends. Example questions are:

How is ___ related to ___?

What conclusions can be drawn from…?

What is the distinction between ___ and ___?

What ideas justify…?

What is the function of…?

 

Synthesis – questions written at this level require students to create new connections, generalizations, patterns, or perspectives. The outcome is for students to originate, integrate, or combine ideas into a product, plan, or proposal. Example questions are: What can be done to minimize/maximize…?

How can you test…?

How can you adapt ___ to create a different…?

Which of the following can you combine to improve/change…?

 

Evaluation – questions written at this level require students to appraise, assess, or critique on the basis of specific standards. The outcome is for students to judge the value of material for a given purpose. Example questions are:

How can you prove/disprove…?

What data was used to make the conclusion…?

Which of the following support the view…?

How can you asses the value or importance of…?

Which of the following can you cite to defend the actions of…?

(Adapted from the University of South Florida)

 

For samples of selected response items from state and national tests, check out the links below:

PARCC Sample/Released Test Items

Wyoming PAWS Released items for Science, Math, Reading

Louisiana Released items for Science, Social Studies, Math and ELA

New York Released items in Math and ELA

PISA released items for Reading, Math and Science

 

General Resources:

Writing Good Multiple Choice Questions (Vanderbilt University)

Writing Good Multiple Choice Questions (University of Alaska)



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