How to design multiple-choice questions

Joe Kirby's blog


Our doubts are traitors,

And make us lose the good we oft might win

By fearing to attempt.

Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Since taking the plunge and adding multiple-choice questions to my assessment repertoire, I’ve found they have refreshing and unexpected advantages.

They make assessment more reliable, marking less labour-intensive, pupil understanding and misconceptions more visible, and allow a wider breadth of knowledge to be assessed across a unit than just using essays or complex, holistic end-of-unit assessments. They save countless hours of marking downstream, and get pupils thinking deeply about subject content.

Both Alex Quigley and Cristina Milos have written perceptively about how tricky they are to create. How can we ensure that the advantages outweigh the limitations?

Research from Little, Bjork, Bjork and Angello (that Alex cites) suggests not only that they are as effective as short-answer tests for retention, but they also have an important advantage over…

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