Multiple Choice Questions - walkliteracy

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Writing Effective
Multiple Choice
Questions
Carlinda D’Alimonte
Thanks to Alice Aspinall for her help with preparing this presentation.
Rationale for Training

EQAO Test Questions

Poor performance of students on MCQs

Incongruence

Practice for standardized tests

An opportunity to respond to well
constructed multiple-choice questions
improves performance
2
Our Focus

Student’s Process

Structure of the Question

Cognitive Process
Process
It is helpful to consider how students should
approach multiple choice questions on a
test/exam.
Three-Step Process
Step One

Before they attempt any of these, read
the passage for basic understanding.
Step Two
Read the first question.
Does the student know the answer?
If yes, read through all the choices and
make sure they select the the most
correct answer. Do not choose the first
correct answer they see.
Step Three
If they do not know the answer right away:
-
-
read the four choices
cross out obviously wrong answers
highlight key words in the question and scan the
text for those words to try to find the right answer
Be aware that some answers may seem
correct, but there is only one best
answer.
Further Instructions

Now go back to any questions that they
circled and left unanswered.

If time permits, repeat the steps to answering
multiple choice questions and review the
passage.

Always make a selection. Never leave an
answer blank.
Repeat this three-step process with
each question in the passage.
Review – Answering MC Questions
Structure
Anatomy of a Multiple-Choice Question
Varieties of MC Questions
Single Correct Answer
 Single Best Answer – Our Focus Today
 Negative – Which of the following is NOT
…
 Multiple Response

Structure: How the Question is Constructed
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




Use questions instead of incomplete statements
Base each item on a specific problem/issue stated clearly in the
stem. The student should be able to answer the question before
reading the possible answers or have a clear, specific idea of what is
being asked
Include as much of the item as possible in the stem, but do not
include irrelevant material
Use plausible distracters and word them clearly and concisely
Keep the alternatives mutually exclusive
Keep alternatives homogeneous in content
Keep options at a similar length
Be grammatically correct
Avoid clues to the answer
Use only “most correct” answer
Do not use “all of the above,” “none of the above,” or negative
questions or answers
Give clear instructions
Multiple Choice Questions
Think of two types of questions.
1. Questions whose answers are easily determined.
In the case of a reading passage the answer is
found right in the text.
- easiest to write
- measure knowledge only
2. Questions whose answers require students to infer
– that is, read between the lines or extend
beyond what is written in the passage
- take time to construct
- measure higher level thinking
16
Making an Inference Means…..
•
•
•
•
•
•
Drawing conclusions
Making deductions
Making conjectures
Speculating
Making presumptions
… and more
17
Cognitive Process
Emphasize
Higher-Level Thinking
Think of Bloom’s
Taxonomy
Bloom’s Taxonomy
Competence
Skills
Question Cues
Knowledge
-
know major ideas, dates, events, places
- master subject matter
- observe and recall of information
collect, define, describe, examine, identify,
label, list, name, outline, quote, show, state
who, when, where, etc., tabulate, tell
Comprehension
- understand/grasp information/meaning
- translate knowledge into new context
- interpret facts, compare, contrast
- order, group, infer causes
- predict consequences
associate, contrast, convert, describe,
differentiate, distinguish, discuss, estimate,
extend, infer, interpret, paraphrase, predict,
summarize, translate
-
use information, methods, concepts,
theories in new situations
- solve problems using required skills
apply, demonstrate, calculate, complete,
compute, illustrate, show, solve, examine,
modify, relate, classify, experiment, discover
Analysis
- see patterns or organize parts
- recognize hidden meanings
- identify components
analyze, separate, order, explain,
connect, classify, distinguish, arrange,
divide, compare, select, explain, infer
Synthesis
- use old ideas to create new ones
- generalize from given facts
- relate knowledge from several areas
- predict, draw conclusions
combine, integrate, modify, rearrange,
substitute, plan, create, design,
invent, what if, compose, formulate,
prepare, generalize, rewrite, summarize,
explain
Evaluation
- compare and discriminate between
ideas
- assess value of theories, presentations
- chose reasoned arguments
- verify value of evidence
- recognize subjectivity
assess, compare, conclude, contrast, decide,
rank, grade, test, measure, recommend,
convince, select,
judge, explain, discriminate,
support, conclude, compare
Application
"Big Dog & Little Dog's Performance Juxaposition." Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains. N.p., 26/05/2009. Web. 16 Apr 2010. <http://nwlink.com/~Donclark/hrd/bloom.html>.
"Bloom's Taxonomy." Univeristy of Victoria Student Services. University of Victoria, 17/12/2009. Web. 16 Apr 2010. <http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learning/exams/blooms-taxonomy.html>.
What MCQ’s Can Assess
QUESTION TYPE
BLOOM’S COMPETENCE
Generalization
Comprehension, Synthesis
Summarizations
Comprehension, Synthesis
Conclusion
Evaluation
Justification of Motives or Reasons
Evaluation
Judgment
Comprehension, Analysis
or Prediction
Showing Relevance or Significance
Evaluation
Justification/Evaluation
Procedures, Solutions
Comprehension, Application,
Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation
Support
Comprehension
Authorial
of Methods,
Choices/Text Features
Analysis
Application
Application
Comparison
Comprehension, Analysis,
Evaluation
Interpretation/Explaining
Relationships
Cause-Effect
Analysis, Evaluation
20
Generalizations:
A General Thought, Idea or Premise Arrived at
as a Result of or Based on Specific Information
1.
Which word best describes the main character? the central
conflict? the initial problem?
2.
What is most likely the theme of the story?
a. Nice guys often finish last
b. Kindness is not always its own reward
c. Kindness is its own reward
d. Time really does heal
3.
What are paragraphs 3 and 4 mainly about? or What is the
passage/selection/paragraph mainly about?
4.
Which statement best describes the message of the article?
a. The Iraqi people are upset that the American soldiers are
here.
b. The situation in Baghdad has resulted in violence erupting
between Iraqi’s and US soldiers.
c. Leadership in the capital has disappeared.
d. The situation in Baghdad is still not secure.
Summarizations:
A Statement Which Specifies the Main Idea or Main
Points
___________________________
1.
Which is the best summary of the article/paragraph/excerpt?
a.
b.
c.
d.
There are many types of jobs and many people looking for work.
It is important to find the best person suited to the job.
Unemployment is on the rise. There are many unemployed
people who are applying for different types of jobs.
Job openings are on the rise. It is important that the unemployed
work hard to try to find a job.
Unemployment is on the rise. Job openings are on the decline
due to many economic factors
2.
Which statement best summarizes the main character’s
thoughts/actions/problem-solving processes, etc. when
___________?
1.
What is this passage mostly about?
Conclusions:
A Judgement Formed After Critical Thought
___________________________
1.
What might the reader conclude based on John’s actions?
a.
b.
c.
d.
2.
Which author/playwright would be most likely to make this
statement about his text? “I believe that the common man is as
apt a subject for tragedy in its highest sense as kings were.”
a.
b.
c.
d.
3.
John is unable to control his anger
John is very passionate
John cannot accept the loss of his brother
John needs the support of his family.
Miller
Orwell
Shakespeare
Checkov
Based on the data in the chart/graph/data set, what might one
conclude?
Motives or Reasons:
Consider Actions, Ideas, Principles, etc.
___________________________
1.
What is the most likely reason Tom walked out of the meeting?
a.
b.
c.
d.
He was afraid of being confronted about his previous actions
He did not feel prepared and needed time to consider how he would handle his
presentation
He was angry about what had happened in his boss’s office that morning
He remembered that he needed to make an urgent phone call
2.
Which of the following best justifies Fred Scott’s decision to sue
his employer?
3.
According to the article, why are teens texting more and
blogging less?
a.
b.
c.
d.
4.
Teens like texting better
There is an explosion in social networking
In 2006, 28% of teen internet users blogged
Older people are becoming more comfortable with blogging
Which statement best describes the role a circle plays in being
able to find the area of a minor segment?
Judgements/Predictions:
Determinations Related to What Might Happen or Occur
Next
___________________________
1. What will most likely be the effect of
Fortinbras’ leadership in Norway?
a.
b.
c.
d.
He will be a stabilizing influence
He will involve Norway in more wars
He will be greedy in his approach to leading
He will have a destabilizing influence
2. Based on Anne’s past actions what is
she most likely to do if she …
Relevance or Significance:
___________________________
1.
What does the robe symbolize in the passage?
a. Love
b. Greed
c. Charity
e. Hope
2.
How is the river important to the story?
3.
How has postmodernism shaped film over the past
twenty years?
Justification/Evaluation:
Examination of Methods, Procedures, Solutions
___________________________
1.
Which statement best supports the ideas contain in
paragraph 9?
2.
Which statement is the best assessment of …?
3.
How would you evaluate the strength of a thesis
statement?
a.
b.
c.
d.
4.
It is meaningful, defensible, and controversial
It is meaningful, direct, and broad in its scope
It is meaningful, specific, and phrased as a question
It is meaningful, defensible, and specific
Which of the following is the best procedure to use to
determine the effectiveness of supporting points?
Support:
Reasoning or Evidence Behind Ideas
___________________________
1.
Which statement best supports the idea that…?
2.
Which of the following actions best supports the idea
of John’s impulsiveness?
a. He skipped school often
b. He ignored his responsibilities
c. He was led to believe he could trust James
d. He often regretted his choices
3.
What statement best illustrates ideas explored in
Theatre of the Absurd?
a. Life is meaningless
b. People avoid taking responsibility for their lives
c. Events are essentially out of our control
d. Life’s absurdity if fun
Authorial Choices/Text Features:
Ideas About the Writer’s Purpose, Techniques or Use of
Format
___________________________
1.
What is the most likely reason the author uses slang/a diary
format/subtitles/italics/graphs/etc?
2.
In Macbeth, what purpose is best served by the repetition of the word tyrant in
Act 5?
a.
b.
c.
d.
It expresses the sentiments of those under Macbeth’s power
It emphasizes the transformation in Macbeth’s character
It indicates Macbeth’s pending demise
It supports the idea that, like Macbeth, we are all tyrants
3.
What purpose is best served by the semicolon/colon/brackets/bold
dash/quotation marks/etc. in paragraph 5?
4.
What is the most likely reason that the author included paragraph 4 in this
passage?
a.
b.
c.
d.
It provides a counter argument
It provides more background information
It shows that she is being fair
It creates doubt in the reader’s mind
Application:
The Use of Previously Learned Information
___________________________
1. Which set of questions would best guide your writing of a character
analysis?
2. Which of the following statements uses the verb to lie correctly?
a. I’m going to lay down for a while.
b. She likes to lay around all day.
c. Let’s lie in the grass all afternoon.
d. I’m going to lie this book on the table for now.
3. Which of the following shows the best use of a semi-colon?
a.
b.
c.
d.
By telling the story from the perspective of the protagonist, Walker create4s empathy for the main
character; we empathize with the narrator’s history, weaknesses, and intentions.
By telling the story from the perspective of the protagonist, Walker creates empathy for the main
character; she also sets the story in a run down house in southern United States.
By telling the story from the perspective of the protagonist, Walker creates empathy for the main
character; the main character struggles with her decision at the climax of the story.
By telling the story from the perspective of the protagonist, Walker creates empathy for the main
character; the tone is both bitter and nostalgic, creating a tense mood.
Comparisons:
___________________________
1. To what popular children’s story might Hamlet
best be compared?
a. Little Red Riding Hood
b. Cinderella
c. The Lion King
d. Chicken Little
2. To what might _________ best be compared?
3. Which of these characters best contrasts
Hamlet?
a.
b.
c.
d.
Julius Caesar
King Lear
Romeo
Macbeth
Interpretations/Explanations of
Cause and Effect Relationships:
Describing Outcomes or Impact of Events or Situations
___________________________
1.
Which of the following best describes the effect of
_________on _________?
2.
What was the cause of Hamlet’s inability to kill
Claudius in the church?
a. Over-thinking
b. Cowardice
c. Anger
d. Grief
3.
Based on the context of the word “shenanigans” in
the article, what would be its best definition?
a. Tricky or questionable conduct
b. Athletic ability
c. High energy level
d. Fair and generous practices
Improving Questions
1. What marks the climax of a Shakespearean tragedy?
a. When the tragic hero commits an error of
judgement
b. When the tragic hero recognizes his error
c. When the tragic hero first responds to the
generating incident
d. When the tragic hero dies
Suggestions for improvement: Include as much information
in the stem so as to avoid unnecessary repetition in the
answers
A better way to phrase this question might be as follows:
It is the behaviour of the tragic hero that marks
the climax in a Shakespearean tragedy. Which
of the following best describes the point at which
the hero’s fortunes begin to decline?
Improving Questions
2. A word used to describe a noun is called an
a.
b.
c.
d.
Adjective
Conjunction
Pronoun
Verb
The word “an” gives the answer away. Also it would be better for the student to apply
knowledge of adjectives to a passage.
This question could be more effectively phrased in this way:
In the following sentence the words that add descriptive detail to the
images are what part of speech? He remembered the quaint East
India Tea House at the fair, the polished sandalwood, the tightly draped
turbans, and the loose robes, the cool interior and the sweet smell of
India tea.
Improving Questions
3.
Hamlet
a.
b.
c.
d.
Is the Thane of Denmark
Is awkward when he rehearses with the player
Never demonstrates his leadership abilities
Is clearly angry with Ophelia
Suggestions for improvement: The stem is vague and broad. The
answers are not homogenous. The student should know what
specifically is being asked after reading the stem.
A way to improve this question would be as follows:
Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most complex characters. Which of
the following statements best reflects his complexity?
a. He is indecisive when he rehearses with the players, yet he
is decisive with the pirates who take him captive
b. He is confident and forthright when he rehearses with the
actors, yet he is indecisive with the pirates take him captive
c. He is accepting of his mother’s marriage, yet he cannot
accept Claudius as his stepfather
d. He is confident and forthright with the players and with the
pirates, yet he is indecisive about killing Claudius
Your Task




Work in a small group to write two higher-level
multiple-choice questions that will measure a
part of any two objectives.
Use the Planning Chart to write your questions
and determine which higher order thinking task
you are tapping.
Refer to the sample questions.
Write structurally solid questions that force the
student to use higher order thinking .
Worksheet
37
Example
Which of the following best describes the
reason it is important to follow the
directions listed in the passage?
a.
To be able to accurately complete
income tax forms
b.
To be able to learn to file taxes before
deadline
c.
To ensure the government will not do
an audit
d.
To ensure the correct information is on
all forms
x
X
X
38
Share Your Favorite Question
Tell ….
 What higher order thinking skills you
are tapping,
 your question and answer choices.
39
ClassMarker
http://classweb101.pbworks.com/OnlineTesting-Sites
 http://www.classmarker.com/
 http://walkliteracy.pbworks.com (Download
this and other material here.)

Works Cited
Burton, Steven. Brigham Young University, 1991. Web. 16 Apr 2010.
<http://testing.byu.edu/info/handbooks/betteritems.pdf>.
Scott, Jana L. Making Inferences. University of Missouri, n.d. Web. 16 Feb 2010.
<www.av.k12.mo.us/main/files/Making_an_Inference.ppt >.
14 Rules for Writing Multiple-Choice Questions. Brigham Young University. Web. 12
Jan. 2010.
“Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning Domains.” Big Dog & Little Dog's Performance
Juxaposition.". N.p., 26/05/2009. Web. 16 Apr 2010.
<http://nwlink.com/~Donclark/hrd/bloom.html>.
"Bloom's Taxonomy." Univeristy of Victoria Student Services. University of Victoria,
17/12/2009. Web. 16 Apr 2010. <http://www.coun.uvic.ca/learning/exams/bloomstaxonomy.html>.
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