A common method to reinforce and check learning in classroom-based or web-based training is to include questions. One of the very useful types of questions that can be used to check the learning is multiple choice questions (MCQs). MCQs are used for measuring three levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – knowledge, comprehension and application outcomes of various types of content, such as terminology, facts, principles, methods and procedures. MCQs are easy to grade and learners are less likely to guess the correct answer, when compared to true or false.
MCQs are a highly preferred assessment question type for most eLearning courses. Learning occurs at many levels, from simple recall to problem solving. There are many types of objective questions such as true or false, multiple choice, match the following, drag and drop, etc. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of MCQs.
|Can tap into different cognitive levels||It is difficult to tap into higher levels of learning (evaluation)|
|Easy to score||MCQs are open for misinterpretation|
|Require relatively little time to answer||It can be time-consuming to construct good test questions|
An MCQ includes the question stem, option and feedback. The stem is the first part of the question that includes the appropriate action verb to link to the learning objectives and should be based on the importance of the topic.
It is better to write MCQs in such a way that they emphasize on higher level of thinking as defined by Bloom’s taxonomy. Let’s see a few question verbs and sample question stems based on Bloom’s taxonomy.
|Bloom’s Taxonomy||Question Verbs||Sample Question Stems|
|List, define, label, identify||Can you identify the ….?|
Name the …
|Explain, predict, interpret, convert||Explain the goals of…?|
Which picture depicts…?
|Demonstrate, apply, sequence||Sequence the steps…..|
How is…?Why is…?
|Differentiate, distinguish, classify||Classify … according to …|
|Develop, design||What might happen if…?|
|Evaluate, compare||Do you agree…?|
Certain rules to follow while creating MCQs (adapted from Haladyna & Dowing (1918)).
- Balance the key
- Avoid the use of “None of the above” and “All of the above”.
- Use plausible distracters.
- Avoid complex multiple choice items.
- Keep the length of the response options fairly consistent.
- Avoid grammatical clues. For example, use a/an & not just for the correct answer.
- Avoid the use of humor when developing the options.
- Keep the stem simple.
- Avoid using negative phrases in the stem
Though many think it’s easy to frame MCQs, they actually do not know the psychological reason behind developing the MCQs. MCQs help to reinforce learning, stimulate the learner and challenge the learner to proceed further and improve his ability for knowledge acquisition and information retention.