Multiple Choice Questions Not Considered Harmful

Woodford, K. and Bancroft, P.

    Increasingly, academics are confronted with issues associated with assessment in large classes, arising from a combination of factors including higher student enrolments and the introduction of a trimester of study in many universities. The resulting increased time pressures on marking are causing many academics to search for alternative forms of assessment. University teachers are making more frequent use of multiple choice questions as a matter of expediency and in some cases, the quality of the assessment is being neglected. This describes the current situation in Information Technology. The aim of this paper is to provide practical guidelines in the form of a checklist for lecturers who wish to write tests containing multiple choice questions. Some of the points raised may be considered common knowledge for those teachers with a background in Education, however not all Information Technology lecturers would fall into this category. While the intended users of the checklist are Information Technology lecturers who, in general, are unlikely to be familiar with many of the matters discussed, teachers in other disciplines may find it a useful reference. In addition to the checklist, this paper also discusses the major criticism of multiple choice questions (that they do not test anything more than just straight recall of facts) and examines ways of overcoming this misconception.
Cite as: Woodford, K. and Bancroft, P. (2005). Multiple Choice Questions Not Considered Harmful. In Proc. Seventh Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2005), Newcastle, Australia. CRPIT, 42. Young, A. and Tolhurst, D., Eds. ACS. 109-116.
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