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C) Multiple Choice can be done right

Some people claim that multiple choice test questions are a bad idea. But just because a tool can be misused doesn’t make that tool itself bad. I work in Learning & Development (the field formerly known as Corporate Training), and I find that multiple choice assessments can be very valuable if done right, and they do happen to be the standard in all forms of testing and surveying, anyway.

So since we use them, let’s at least use them correctly, shall we?

Here’s a quick summary of my two decades of experience on how to do that:

  1. Have 3 answer options. No less, no more (and NO True/False). There’s plenty of science about why this is best, but most people like to ignore it.

Write this test first

Additionally, I’d recommend that we always write all assessments first. Only once these measurements are approved by stakeholders and vetted by SMEs should we bother creating the rest of the content that supports it. Yes, it’s a little weird for people, but in practice it’s just easier that way. This focuses the content on business outcomes and circumvents scope creep in our project.

If anyone bugs us about teaching to the test, we can remind them that valuable supplemental resources can be made available to via other means, separate from any assessment components. This makes it easy for Learners to differentiate “nice to know” from “need to know”, and that if it’s needed, it’s on the test already.

Now, it’s time for a sample multiple choice question!

This article was:

A) Extremely valuable. I can implement it immediately.

B) Okay, but a bit long. I only skimmed it, really.

C) Not very helpful to me. I was expecting something different and/or thought this was just bad advice.

Please submit your answer in the comments…and feel free to expand on your answer! These are my best practices, but I’m wide open to making them even better with your feedback. Thanks.

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Sam Rogers is President of Snap Synapse LLC which bridges the gaps between technology, design, subject matter expertise, and audience engagement. After nearly twenty years working as an Senior Instructional Designer, eLearning Developer, Video eLearning Producer, LMS Integrations Specialist, ILT Facilitator, and Learning Ecosystems Architect, Sam brings an integrated perspective to all things Learning & Development. He’s also a writer, producer, and performer for stage and screen, has toured the world as a professional musician, and he speaks, writes, and teaches frequently in the L&D Community.

Likes to do things. Lots of things. Writing is one.

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