Multiple choice – another option

Another way of thinking about multiple choice where calculations are involved

So last year I wrote a multiple choice math exam and had this weird idea. Play with me for a sec…

How to write a multiple choice question – You write the question and the right answer, then you add “distractors.” It’s like a game: teacher figures out what the most common mistakes students will make are, and then puts the corresponding wrong answer on the test. So if students are likely to forget to convert “hours” to “minutes”, you do the problem without converting to minutes and put that answer down.

Here’s my thought…

What if you just effing didn’t? What if you didn’t include that distractor? Now your student makes the silly error, goes through the work, and that answer is… not a choice. (Don’t bring up “none of the above” – keep playing with me) So the student thinks, “I made a mistake somewhere.” And maybe the student realizes “Oh! A half hour is thirty minutes! Let me try that!” and gets it right.

What’s happened? We let the student make a error, and … fix it. They didn’t get PUNISHED, they got guided. If the student really had no idea what they were doing, they would have to guess, like in any multiple choice test. But if a student DID have the knowlege, and was just careless, they would have LEARNED something while taking the test.

So multiple choice tests involving calculations. What if we said, “To hell with distractor traps” and put the right answer down, along with other, random answers? Not playing the “what mistakes will you make” game?

What do you think?

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