Usage and Tips - adaptlearning/adapt-contrib-mcq GitHub Wiki


  • Assessments comprising Multiple Choice Questions are used globally to test learners on a very wide range of topics.


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Here are some techniques for getting the most from Multiple Choice Question:

  • Use the MCQ with other components to offer richer questions than would otherwise be possible with the MCQ alone. For example, pairing a clearly labelled diagram of an electrical circuit with an MCQ that asks where a measurement of electrical resistance should be taken.

  • Feedback can be provided for correct, partially correct (for questions requiring more than one correct option to be identified) and incorrect responses. Alternatively feedback can be matched to each of the individual options and this can be used to provide very tailored.

  • If you're setting the question to have more than one correct response, be sure to provide Partly Correct Feedback; otherwise, the question will be marked, but feedback won't be shown.

  • If the question is multiple attempts, consider using the first attempt feedback for an incorrect response as a means of providing a hint.

General tips on writing MCQ questions:

  • Ensure the question stem is clear and unambiguous, providing the necessary context to ensure the correct answer(s) can be identified.

  • Where possible use the question stem to carry the bulk of the meaning, rather than duplicating information within the individual options.

    • Poor example:
      Which of the following statements is true?
      Mars has an average distance of 142 million miles from the sun
      Earth has an average distance of 142 million miles from the sun
      Saturn has an average distance of 142 million miles from the sun
      Neptune has an average distance of 142 million miles from the sun
    • Better example:
      ‘Which planet has an average distance from the sun of 142 million miles?’
      Mars (Correct)
  • Try to use positive stem, however if a negative stem is unavoidable then emphasis the fact in bold. For example:
    ‘Which of the astronauts listed below has not set foot on the moon?’

  • The use of emphasis applies when asking the learner to identify two options.
    ‘Name both the astronauts from the Apollo 11 mission to have walked on the surface of the moon.’

  • Keep options and distractors roughly the same size.

  • Keep distractors plausible, avoiding obviously wrong options.

  • Avoid providing unintentional clues in the options by mixing your approach for presenting stem and options.
    Question style example:
    Which of the following is the largest moon of Saturn?
    Titan (correct)

General tips on using questions:

  • Consider using questions early in the page to help increase engagement and get the learner reflecting on the topic at hand. This approach helps to engage any existing knowledge as well as provide the learner to self-assess on their current level of understanding. Questions pitched at the right level and accompanied by well-crafted feedback can help create conditions for learning by making clear any existing gaps in knowledge and reinforce the relevance of the training available on the rest of the page.

  • Add questions after key information is presented to allow the learner to self-check and look to use the feedback as an opportunity to provide remedial learning, rather than "Sorry, that’s not right"—instead elaborate on what made the correct options a good choice. Provide the same level of detail for correct feedback as the learner may have just got lucky.

  • Use questions at the end of the page to allow the learner to test their understanding of all the subject matter presented. Look to ask a question that requires more than the recall of some of the facts presented on the page, instead try creating a question that requires the learner to demonstrate a working knowledge of the subject matter.