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Multiple Choice - pros and cons?

 
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 2:19 pm    Post subject: Multiple Choice - pros and cons? Reply with quote

The training centre that I work for wants to develop a variety of self-assessment tests. The idea is that people can discover their strengths and weaknesses quickly, then choose an appropriate training course.

I have been asked to put together some language evaluations using a multiple choice format (called QCM here in France).

However, the 'multiple choice' format seems to be somewhat limited, because of random chance or educated guesswork.

Can anyone give me advice about how to use this format ?

Has there been any research on how to optimize multiple choice? (i.e., it's best to have 3 possible answers. Or 4, or 5, etc.)

Any advice will be gratefully received!
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assisted in creating a test once that was a cloze with multiple choice answers. This is how we made it:

1) Wrote the cloze story and took out every tenth word or whatever (I think we may not have been quite exact on the count) for 33 items.
2) Gave the cloze with blanks in it to a group of native speakers. Chose the most popular answer as the "right" one.
3) Gave the cloze to many ESL students, counting which answers were the most common, then grouping them so that there was a grammar error, a meaning error, etc. for three distractors.
4) Made the cloze test with multiple choice for all 33 blanks.
5) Gave the test to many ESL students. Rejected the easiest and the hardest questions, keeping 25 out of 33.
6) Gave the finished test to students at the same time as another test that had already been proven to be successful.

The test worked very well (It's still being sold today and it was written about 20 years ago.) but you can see the amount of work it took.
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strider



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 160
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Lorikeet for your interesting (and rapid!) response.

This is an excellent idea, I'll think about it and try to find a way to adapt it to the situation here.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2003 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

strider wrote:
Thanks Lorikeet for your interesting (and rapid!) response.


Well, if you have to be addicted to something, the ESL Message Board isn't the worst thing. Wink
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warrenb



Joined: 11 Mar 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Victoria, B.C., Canada

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi!

Multiple choice does not necessitate significant problems due to random answers being correct. The problems are worse with fewer choices and become trivial with many choices.

You might look at http://www.Net4Ed.com (it's a subscribed learning content management system that I developed) if you want an inexpensive, online system. How I tackled the problem was to allow the teacher up to 10 choices in each question. The Math department here at the University of Victoria uses the 10-choice format. Guessing just doesn't pay off! With my system you get however many choices you request for each question.

Good luck!

-Warren
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