By: Linda Suskie
Multiple-choice tests don’t get much respect. Maybe it’s because they’re associated with memorization, old-fashioned standardized tests, and other situations in which the answer is likely to be “C.”
Yet when properly designed, multiple-choice tests can be a vital addition to your testing tool box. Outlined here are 30 tips for writing good multiple-choice questions.
All the suggestions that follow stem from two basic precepts:
- Remove all barriers that will keep a knowledgeable student from getting the item right.
- Remove all clues that will help a less-than-knowledgeable student get the item right.
By: Amy B. Mulnix, PhD
My wiper blades needed to be replaced. I hate these kinds of tasks; they make me feel completely inadequate. But I was doing a lot of reading about learning, and I was looking for concrete examples in my own life to help me better understand the theory and practice of learning. Knowledge transfer, constructivism, scaffolding, and making thinking visible were all pretty new ideas to me.
So, I approached the task as a learning opportunity. I gave myself every advantage—no rain, moderate temps, a Saturday morning with no commitments. I prepared deliberately—a full stomach, empty bladder, and the entire toolbox next to the car. But my resolve was shaken with the very first task. Packaging these days requires the jaws of life. After struggling with the pliers and breaking a fingernail, I went inside for the heavy-duty scissors and was once again ready to get started.
By: Steve Dwinnells, PhD
As an adjunct professor and one who works daily with faculty in helping them understand online education, I have noticed and heard of increasing numbers of professors going missing in action (MIA) while teaching their online course. This is particularly disturbing since engagement is the number one characteristic that faculty must strive for when teaching from a distance.
By: Deborah Bracke, PhD
“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.” This quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, is often used in gifted education to justify the attention, resources, and opportunities provided to those who are more academically talented than others. It’s intended to connote a sense of fairness, a feeling that not every student should have the same classroom experience. Rather, there should be an emphasis on appropriate instruction, instruction that is responsive to individual needs, interests, and abilities.
Yet the heat of the college experience often produces an uncomfortable state of tension between what is “equal” and what is “fair.” Many of us wonder whether both can be achieved simultaneously. Certainly, professors can adapt instruction so that a variety of needs can be met. But can teaching be personalized so that all individual differences and learning styles are privileged in every classroom?
By: John Orlando, PhD
Athletes are often “graded out” by their coaches after a game, and they always know ahead of time the exact criteria that will be used to grade them. An offensive lineman knows that he will be graded on the number…...
By: James M. Lang, PhD
Research in cognitive theory suggests that small, timely interventions in any type of classroom environment can maximize learning for our students. One approach to using such interventions would be to use them in the opening minutes of class, at the midway mark, and in the closing five minutes. The strategies, taken singly or together, can help students remember information, enhance their understanding of complex material, and understand how to transfer learning to new contexts. The strategies below can be implemented orally with individual students or in groups, through brief writing exercises, or through clickers or other classroom technology.
By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD
There’s a lot of talk these days about evidence-based instructional practices, so much that I’ve gotten worried we aren’t thinking enough about what that means. Let me see if I can explain with an example. Recently I’ve been trying to…
By: Donna M. Qualters, PhD
Should teachers strike?
How should government balance privacy rights with national security?
Should companies value their shareholders over the environment?
How quickly should a software company fix a known bug?
Regardless of discipline, faculty are faced with ethical issues in our classes around a variety of sensitive topics, and students will question the ethics of certain practices or topics in our field. As trained academics, we are not always comfortable having discussions where there is no clear right or wrong answer or talking about ethical areas in which we do not feel we are experts. So, how do you respond to students who really want to know “the answer” to these types of questions?
By: Jim and Beth Harger
Dr. John Orlando, associate director of faculty support at Northcentral University, joins us with a unique perspective for teaching online. “I have a confession to make. I was wrong. I was taught wrong.” In grad school Orlando was taught how…