Questions can be thought of in terms of a taxonomy, from simple recall to higher-order analysis and evaluation. Questions also take varied forms, including short answer, essay, and multiple choice. While multiple choice questions are often poorly designed, they can test recall and higher-order thinking well, if designed with sufficient care. Also, you can learn a lot writing a good multiple-choice question; this is much harder than being able to answer one!
A question is structured by a stem (that which is given) and multiple choice answers. Write a multiple choice question:
- that tests more than recognition/recall, but understanding
- has a complete question stem with an attributed source (e.g., "according to Geert Hofstede" or "the lecture")
- with choices that are short and of a similar length
- that avoids give-away, obviously wrong choices
- that uses incorrect but related choices
- unrelated statements or concepts from the same readings
- arguments the author reviewed but found lacking
- the position the author was refuting
- that doesn't use true/false, “all of the above," “none of the above”, or "A, B and D, but not C."
The following is an example of a good recall question because all these ideas were addressed in the chapter, but only one is clearly right
- According to the text a dialectic is:
- a break in discourse between a superior and subordinate
- a tension between opposing options in a choice
- a weak form of organizational relationship
- a technique of network analysis
The next is a good example of a question that tests the relationship between concepts (i.e., more than recall).
- According to the text which of the following is true:
- crisis management includes crisis communication
- crisis communication is synonymous with crisis management
- crisis communication includes crisis management
- crisis communication is synonymous with image management
The following questions are unfair, requiring the taker to remember a precise and arbitrary detail.
This question about a percentage only tests the recall of a factoid.
- According to the text, 18% of online Americans have:
- made their own contributions to news coverage
- posted civic and political material
- contributed health related content
- used social media tools to participate in politics
This question tests the ability to recall all the members of a list rather than the meaning of a concept.
- Which of the following is NOT part of the toolbox of skills in digital participation?