Multiple-choice questions – love them or hate them

I seem to have spent quite a lot of time muttering about multiple-choice questions. You might be wondering what I have against them. It’s partly that students don’t really have to engage with the assessment process in as deep a way if they are just picking an option rather than constructing a response for themselves, but also because it is possible to guess a correct answer – so when used summatively, if a student has got a multiple-choice question right, you don’t really know whether they understand a topic or have demonstrated a learning outcome. There are ways of dealing with this problem, primarily confidence-based marking.

Also, to be fair, I have seen some excellent and creative uses of multiple-choice questions. When the OpenCETL websites are mended I will give some examples. So if the e-assessment software you are using only allows multiple-choice questions, or if there isn’t another way of asking the question you want to ask, don’t despair.  Some multiple-choice questions are distinctly better than others!

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