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    Assessment Design Tips from eAssessment Scotland

    By Jessica Gramp, on 5 November 2012

    xomputer-based examinationThe Assessment Design Tips seminar preceding the eAssessment Scotland Conference in 2011 was a hands-on workshop that revealed these valuable assessment design tips.


    Assessment design: where to start?

    1. Start by writing the assessment’s overall learning objectives and let the student know what these are.
    2. For each question determine what it is you want students to demonstrate knowing.
    3. When writing distractors (wrong answers) think back to common misconceptions your students have demonstrated in the past and see if you can capture these in the incorrect answers. You can then point them in the right direction in the feedback (if it’s a formative assessment).
    4. Once you have finished writing, give the questions to someone who doesn’t know the topic and see if they can guess the correct answers. If they can you have probably made one of the mistakes mentioned below.

    Tips for writing Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)


    • using negatives in the question.
    • duplication in answers across different questions.
    • excessively detailed correct answers (the answer with the most detail is commonly the correct one).
    • giving away the answer by using an or a in the question text directly preceding the answer.
    • giving away answers in the text of other questions.
    • including deliberately confusing answers.
    When writing distractors
    • include only plausible distractors.
    • they should be as detailed as the correct answer/s.
    When using ‘all of the above’ / ‘none of the above’ answers
    • remember to turn of answer randomisation, or better still rephrase these answers to say ‘All of these are correct’ / ‘None of these are correct’ so that it doesn’t matter where they appear in the list of answers.
    • remember to include ‘All of these are correct’/’None of the these are correct’ as distractors too – don’t just use them when they are correct.
    Try using different question types
    • try writing questions that have a complex scenario, but simple answers, in order to test a student’s problem solving skills.
    • include questions that contain more than one correct answer (you can give part marks or full marks for each correct selection).
    • try using multiple choice Assertion/Reason questions, so students need to justify their response and are less likely to just guess the correct response. These questions have the following form:
    Select the correct statement from the list:
    a) This statement is incorrect.
    b) This statement is incorrect.
    c) This statement is correct.
    d) This statement is incorrect.
    The (statement is true) because …….

    Note: if you use Assertion/Reason questions it is important you don’t shuffle the quiz questions, as it is important for the student to answer these in order.

    » Read further tips for writing Multiple Choice Questions