Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

Multiple choice is the most popular method of questioning, and it’s easy to see why. Rather than getting a 50/50 chance at choosing the right answer, as is the case with true or false questions, multiple choice involves a diverse range of variables that require insight, knowledge, and skill to answer correctly. In this article, I’ll delve into 4 best practices of developing multiple choice questions, and share 4 tips on how you can use them most effectively in your eLearning course.
Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning

Multiple choice questions feature a stem question or statement, which is accompanied by a series of alternative answers. Only one alternative is correct, otherwise it is considered a multiple answer question, and the remaining alternatives are known as “distractors”. Multiple choice questions can assess learner knowledge when they are in the form of what, where, when, and who questions. However, they can also be used to determine the level of synthesis and analysis, two key aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy, if they appear as how and why questions.

Best Practices For Creating Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Only provide one correct answer.
    As they consist typical example of closed-ended questions, the set of multiple choice alternatives must contain a single correct answer. Also, the answer must be verifiable and unambiguous. For example, if two alternatives might be correct or the answer is debatable, then the multiple choice question is not truly effective.
  2. Determine the number of alternatives in advance.
    Decide how many alternatives you will include for each question and keep it the same throughout. For example, if you provide five alternatives in the first question, ranging from A to E, the second question should also consist of five alternatives. As a general rule, you should limit the number of variables to 4 or 5, as this decreases the chances of a learner correctly guessing the answer and prevents memory overload.
  3. Concentrate on the learning objectives.
    Every multiple choice question that you include in your eLearning course should relate to the learning objectives or goals. If it does not center on a key takeaway or important concept, then it’s best to leave it out of the exam. The question, itself, should tie into a single objective, and give the learner the opportunity to display their knowledge of the subject matter, rather than testing them on every detail of the online lesson.
  4. Verbosity has no place in multiple choice questions.
    It may be tempting to use as many words as possible to elaborate the question and make it more challenging for the learner. However, effective multiple choice inquiries consist of concise questions and corresponding alternatives. The fewer words the better. Keep in mind that you aren’t trying to assess reading comprehension or vocabulary skills , unless this is the key learning objective of your eLearning course. Instead, every question is intended to gauge how well learners know the subject matter and if they are achieving the learning goals.

4 Tips On How To Use Multiple Choice Questions In eLearning

  1. Ensure all questions and alternatives are of similar length.
    An alternative that is longer or more detailed than the others is generally the correct one. Be sure to keep all questions and answers a similar length so that it blends in with the other options. If the correct alternative is quite lengthy, then create another lengthy answer to make it less conspicuous. If the correct alternative is more complex or in-depth, by nature, you may want to make all of the alternatives more complicated as well.
  2. Randomize the correct answers.
    Switch up the order of your correct alternatives and ensure that they don’t follow a noticeable pattern throughout the exam. For example, if “A” is the correct solution for every other question, your learners are most likely going to be able to find the pattern and use it to their advantage. Even if they don’t know the subject matter, they can get at least half the questions right by simply selecting the “A” alternative 50% of the time.
  3. Steer clear of “above” answers.
    At some time or another, we’ve all taken a test that has tested our mettle and baffled us to some degree. Chances are, when we were given the option to choose “None of the above” or “All of the above” during this exam, we went for it. This is because we knew that these answers were likely to be correct, thanks to the fact that it wasn’t a multiple answer assessment and our instructors had to provide us with a way to choose multiple different alternatives, hence, the “All of the above” option. Now that you are wearing the “test-writer” hat, it’s important not to fall into the same trap by giving your learners a catch-all alternative. If you want to provide more than one correct answer, simply provide your learners clear instructions before the question to let them know that they must choose more than one answer.
  4. Leave manipulation out of the equation.
    Deceiving the learner by creating similar answer options may be tempting, especially if you believe that doing so will make the test more challenging. However, it’s best to leave trickery out of the equation, as it won’t allow you to test a learner’s understanding of the topic. If they know the subject matter, then they will be able to spot the correct answer in the set. Disguising another alternative to make it look like the correct choice, such as using a word that can be used in lieu of the right answer, will only confuse and frustrate the learner. Not to mention, it still won’t give you a clear idea of whether they know the subject matter.

Use this article as a guide to develop multiple choice eLearning questions that quickly and effective determine how much your learner knows, and if they need additional resources or support to achieve their learning goals and objectives.

Interested in learning more about how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in assessment? The article How To Write Multiple-Choice Questions Based On The Revised Bloom's Taxonomy will show you how to write multiple-choice questions based on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy.

 
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