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Variations on multiple choice

Introduction

The multiple choice question type is a very flexible question type that has formed the basis of the OU's CMA system since the early 1970s. By the late 70s the off-line CMA system had as many varieties of question types as Heinz has soups. The online system does not have quite that many but as this website shows, when using an interactive computer, multiple choice questions can be rendered in a variety of interesting ways.

However by definition this question type displays the correct answer for the student to choose. This is not the same as requiring the student to arrive at the correct answer themselves.

Writing good distractors is not necessarily easy. Authors must decide how much effort to expend in explaining why a distractor is incorrect, or whether to concentrate solely on the correct answer.

A word of warning when writing feedback on multiple choice questions. The feedback is teaching feedback, targeted where possible, but such feedback can never cover all eventualities, and especially in multiple-choice questions it is possible that students may have guessed, so there needs to be generic feedback provided too. It is wise to adopt course wide guidelines for authors.

Of course the CMAs of previous years may provide a wealth of examples to use interactively but before you use them 'as is' please ask yourself if they may be adapted in some way to make more engaging use of the modern multimedia computing technology that you have at your disposal.

Contact us

Comments on OpenMark may be addressed to:

Chris Nelson
Product Development Manager
The Open University
chris.nelson@open.ac.uk

Greg Black
Production Manager
The Open University
greg.black@open.ac.uk