Look around, and you will notice that Multiple Choice Questions, commonly known as MCQs are a highly preferred assessment method for almost all eLearning courses. What makes MCQs everyone’s favorite choice? The answer is simple. The ease with which MCQs can be designed, the little effort needed to integrate them to a course, the instant feedback they provide to the learners, and the convenience of using it as a self-assessment tool for the learners, make them a favorite choice of all designers.
Here are some general tips and guidelines for developing effective MCQs:
1. Make all the choices in the MCQs believable. An unbelievable choice becomes an easy give away and a striking target for elimination!
2. Keep all your answers as short as possible. This will avoid learners from reading and re-reading long answers to get their options right.
3. However let all the answers have more or less the same length. This will avoid giving a clue to the learner. For instance, if only one option in the answers is much lengthier compared to the rest, the learner will immediately guess it to be the right answer! He will reason that the designer will otherwise not take pains to write such a long answer in the first place.
4. When using incomplete statements for your MCQs, avoid beginning the sentence with a blank space. Instead, place the blank at the end. This will relieve the learner from reading the question over and again in an attempt to choose the right answer.
5. As far as possible, avoid negatives in the question stem. It will be more like testing the learner’s mental ability rather than a test for his understanding of the subject. Moreover, asking learners what is not present doesn’t guarantee that they know what is really present!
6. Use ‘All of the above’ and ‘None of the above’ cautiously. For instance, if the learner recognizes a wrong answer, he can immediately eliminate the ‘all of the above’ option from his answers! He thus has a better chance of guessing the right answer.
7. Avoid using the words ‘never’ and ‘always’ in a question. The learner may think of an obscure exception which might not have crossed the designer’s mind, and may end up giving a wrong answer to the query.
8. Let the feedback of answering a question be more than just ‘Yes, you are right’, or ‘No, you are wrong’. Instead, keep your feedback a little elaborate. This will help the learner learn a thing or more, even when he has gone wrong!
9. Use different styles of questions to avoid the assessment from becoming monotonous and boring to the learner. ‘Choose the right word, select the right option, match the following, drag and drop’, are some of the different ways by which you could frame your MCQs.
We need to understand that although designing MCQs may seem simple and easy at first glance, for a committed and inclined designer, it may be quite an involved task to come up with a good, balanced, and well-designed set of MCQs which meet the course objectives. Apart from assessment, MCQs should also help in reinforcing learning in the learner, stimulate the learner, and challenge the learner to proceed further and improve his ability for knowledge acquisition and information retention.