Maximizing the Effectiveness of Multiple-Choice Qs

A simple and adaptable activity that maximizes the effectiveness of multiple-choice questions.

Below is a quick activity that is easily adaptable for most class settings. It maximizes the effectiveness of multiple-choice questions and is a wonderful way for students and teachers to assess student learning. I really like this activity, because unlike most involving multiple-choice questions, this template makes use of all answer choices and requires students effortfully work with all of the material.

Another reason I really like this is its ability to cover a lot of material in a few questions.  If you have 10 questions with 5 answer choices, the students could feasibly interact with 50 different snippets of material.  As you can see below, the student has to interact with the question stems in various ways:

  • With the correct answer the student must either provide a memory aid they used to help them choose this answer OR provide a sketch that illustrates the term or concept covered.
  • With the incorrect answers, students must:
    • Use the ‘trickiest’ incorrect answer to describe why this answer is most likely to trip up students and potentially lead students to choosing this answer.
    • Rewrite the question to make this incorrect answer the correct answer.
    • Give an example relating this answer to the student’s life.
    • Link this answer to information from a previous lesson/unit or to information learned from another class.

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How can you use this in your class?

How could you modify the template for use as a study guide, for homework, or as a quiz grade in class?

What other ideas do you have to help students interact with the answers?



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One Comment

  1. I really like this! What a great way to encourage deeper thinking. A number of years back I produced two different documents, with a little help from my colleagues, and we called it ‘I Know I’m Close Multiple Choice’.

    We found it to:

    (1) Widen the window for students to demonstrate understanding

    (2) Identify poorly-worded questions

    (3) In many cases it brought to light that students could think about their thinking MC situations.

    The supplemental version was produced in response to a university professor I met on a flight who had 300 students who all used ScanTron bubble responses.

    I couldn’t find a way to paste it here, so try this link…

    Myron Dueck
    Grading Smarter Not Harder – ASCD


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