Write Effective Multiple Choice Activities
Multiple choice Activities present learners a question, followed by the correct answer and several distractors (typically 3-5). This Activity type may include answer options such as “all of the above”, “none of the above”, or “both b and c.”
When creating a multiple choice Activity, you are testing for:
- recall of information
- understanding of concepts
You are not testing for reading ability, so your questions and answer options should be easy to read and follow.
When using the multiple choice Activity format, we recommend the following best practices:
Test one idea per Activity
Write questions in the form of a question or incomplete sentence
Use positive phrasing
If you have to use negative phrasing, highlight negative words using bold, underline, or both (for example, which of the following are not, all of the following except)
Provide four answer options, except in situations where having more or fewer options makes sense (for example, a) less than, b) equal to, c) greater than)
Ensure all answer options are related and grammatically similar, including the distractors
Arrange answer options in a logical order (ex: arrange numerical values or dates from lowest to highest)
The poor Activity tests more than one idea. Test one idea at a time to get a more accurate measure of learners’ knowledge.
In this example, you are asking learners about how high they can climb and how much weight they can carry. How do you determine which area they understand and which they don’t? It is better to ask learners two separate Activities. Covering one idea per Activity helps reduce the cognitive load on learners, by allowing them to focus their mental energy on one thing at a time.
ProTip: Using scaffolding, you can gradually present learners with increasingly complex Activities. When presenting these higher-level Activities, it becomes less important to test one idea at a time because learners have already reached a higher level of mastery.
The poor Activity doesn’t arrange the answers in a logical order, so learners need to expend extra effort to try and make sense of them. In this case, arranging the times in ascending order makes them easier to read and follow.