Multiple choice questions are an excellent option for diagnostic and formative assessments leading up to midterms! Consider the following 5 tips when constructing multiple choice items to avoid your assessment becoming “multiple guess”:
- Keep the question (stem) simple and free of unnecessary information. The stem should stand alone – a student should be able to answer the question in their head without seeing the optional answers (the distractors).
- Avoid fill in the blank questions (ex. “The colour of a stop sign is ________ and the shape is ______.”) and questions with double negatives (ex. “To ensure a stop sign is not stollen, what should not be done?”). These questions are unclear and can unnecessarily confuse students, thus lower their chances of success.
- Ensure all your distractors (incorrect answers) are plausible answers to the question. This will improve the discriminatory power of the question, separating the students who have the knowledge from those who do not and eliminating strategic elimination (the test taker is able to determine one element is incorrect and conclude the entire option is incorrect).
- Eliminate wishy washy answers such as “all of the above”, “none of the above”, “a & b”, etc. These options promote strategic elimination and can be unnecessarily challenging.
- Be aware of apparent differences in writing and appearance of the distractors (e.g., poor grammar or grammatical shifts/tense variations) or patterns (ex. words at the front of distractors; length of the distractors) that separate the correct answer from the incorrect answers. Students easily identify patterns, which supports strategic elimination and will not appropriately assess the knowledge of the student.
Teaching & Learning Tip: Assessment questions
Have your students write assessment questions for you! This activity can be done as an active learning strategy at the end of a lesson or as a study strategy leading up to an assessment. This not only supports retrieval practice, strengthening memory and neural connections (making the information easier to retrieve later), but also provides you, their faculty, with a view of what the students took from the lesson or have deemed to be important. This information can be used to identify gaps in learning, direct review or reinforcement activities, and inform future teaching. Bonus? You don’t have to think of 100 different questions on your own!
Have individuals or small groups of students write 5 multiple choice questions at the end of a lesson or module and submit them to you as an in-process activity or “ticket out the door”. You can then modify and enter these questions into the DC Connect question bank for your course.
DC Connect Tip: Stop, Start, Continue
Only a few more weeks and we’re halfway through the semester! This is a great time to gather formative input from your students by using Stop, Start, Continue. Gathering feedback allows you to implement feedback before the end of the semester. We’ve provided a Stop, Start, Continue survey that can be easily imported into your course in DC Connect. Check out our page on Stop, Start, Continue! Alternatively, you can use Microsoft Forms to easily create online surveys.
The Student Perspective on Remote Learning from SALS
SALS has a unique perspective in connecting with students outside of the classroom, which provides the opportunity to gather their thoughts and feedback around teaching and learning activities at DC. As the academic year has continued the shift to remote delivery, students have expressed their appreciation for faculty being available to answer questions and clarify expectations, as well as recognizing the importance of flexibility as everyone tries to navigate the new learning environment. Students report that they feel supported by each other but are also feeling overwhelmed with the quantity of work and the nature of remote learning. They have established group chats to stay connected, share information and support each other with their transition to college and remote learning. One of SALS contributions to supporting this transition was through the creation and delivery of 42 unique SALS Essentials workshops during the last two weeks of August. Students have said how beneficial the workshops were and how learning about SALS early on has helped them prepare for their studies. Students are taking advantage of remotely delivered staff-led workshops, tutorials, and appointments as well as virtual peer tutoring. It is crucial that students access academic supports early in the semester and the impact of faculty referrals and promotion of SALS supports cannot be understated. Remember that SALS is here to support your students!