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Multiple-choice questions

Multiple-choice questions are a method of assessment that asks students to select one choice from a given list. They typically have three parts: a stem, the correct answer – called the key, and several wrong answers, called distractors. Multiple-choice questions are most widely used for measuring knowledge, comprehension, and application of learning outcomes.

There are a number of different ways multiple-choice questions can be presented. The classic approach is the simple stem question or completion format followed by options. Two other approaches to presenting multiple-choice questions are the:

Strengths

Limitations

Learn more about

Guidelines for writing multiple choice questions
Examples of good and poor multiple choice questions
Example multiple choice questions using Bloom's Taxonomy

Additional information

Allen, T. (1998). The taxonomy of educational objectives. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the Humboldt State University Web site: http://www.humboldt.edu/~tha1/bloomtax.html

Bixler, B. (2002). Writing educational goals and objectives. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the Pennsylvania State University Web site: http://www.personal.psu.edu/staff/b/x/bxb11/Objectives/

Bloom, B.S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, Vol. 1. New York: McKay.

Bloom’s taxonomy. (2003). Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the University of Victoria Counseling Services Web site: http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learn/program/hndouts/bloom.html

Carneson, J., Delpierre, G., & Masters, K. (n.d.). Designing and managing multiple-choice questions: Appendix B, designing MCQs – do’s and don’ts. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the University of Cape Town Web site:   http://www.uct.ac.za/projects/cbe/mcqman/mcqappb.html

Clark, D. (2002). Learning domains or Bloom’s taxonomy. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

DeVellis, R. F. (1991). Scale development: Theory and applications. Newbury Park: Sage Publications.

Dewey, R. A. (1998, January 20). Writing multiple-choice items which require comprehension. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from http://www.psywww.com/selfquiz/aboutq.htm

Donovan, M. P., & Allen, R.D. (n.d.). Analytical problems in biology. Morgantown, West Virginia: Alpha Editions.

Gronlund, N. E. (1998). Assessment of student achievement. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Haladyna. T. M. (1999). Developing and validating multiple-choice test items, 2 nd ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Haladyna, T. M. (1994). Developing and validating multiple-choice test items, 1 st ed . Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Haladyna, T. M. (1989). Taxonomy of multiple-choice item-writing rules. Applied Measurement in Education , 2 (1), 37-50.

Hellyer, S. (n.d.). A teaching handbook for university faculty. Chapter 9: Multiple-choice exams. Retrieved October 1, 1998 from Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis Web site: http://www.iupui.edu/~profdev/handbook/chap9.html.

Huitt, W. (2000). Bloom et al.’s taxonomy of the cognitive domain. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from Valdosta State University Educational Psychology Web site: http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/cogsys/bloom.html

Krumme, G. (2001). Major categories on the taxonomy of educational objectives. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the University of Washington Web site: http://faculty.washington.edu/krumme/guides/bloom.html

Office of Family Policy Compliance, Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Retrieved August 10, 2006 from http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

Sevenair, J. P., & Burkett, A. R. (1997). Overview of the multiple-choice format. Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the Xaviar University of Louisiana Web site: http://webusers.xula.edu/jsevenai/objective/overview.html

Terry, T.M. (1980). The narrative exam – an approach to creative organization of multiple-choice tests. Journal of College Science Teaching, 9 (3), 156-158.

Writing educational goals and objectives. (2001). Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Bureau of Pharmaceutical Services Web site: http://www.pharmd.org/thebureau/N.htm

Writing multiple-choice questions that demand critical thinking. (2002). Retrieved July 21, 2006 from the University of Oregon Teaching Effectiveness Program Web site: http://tep.uoregon.edu/resources/assessment/multiplechoicequestions/mc4critthink.html

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