A Social Learning Community
For Users of Turning Technologies Products and Services
Community Groups

All Questions are not Created Equal: Writing the Stem

I thought a few suggestions on creating quality multiple choice questions that assess for learning could be useful with our TurningPoint products. I will post these in several parts based on the elements of a multiple choice question. Let's start with some common terminology:

Stem: the question or part to which the student should respond

Options: answer choices

Distractors: incorrect options

Key: correct option

Here are a few best practices for writing the stem:

  1. Either write the stem as a question or always put the blank at the end of the statement.
  2. Highlight important words in the stem.
  3. It is best to avoid negatives such as "not" or "except".
  4. Read over your stem and take out any extra word, the shorter the stem and more direct, the more clear it will be for the students.

Ideas for Distractors

The biggest challenge I've run into with designing good questions is coming up with good distrators that help to "diagnose" errors in student thinking.  Three common types of distractors I have found are: misconceptions (an overall fallacy in reasoning), oversimplification (a high level understanding but lacking knowledge of details), and overgeneralizations (one size fits all approach, student may not understand that certain circumstances can affect the outcome).


Search for:

User login

Copyright © 2008-2009 Turning Technologies, LLC, Portions Responsive Innovations, LLC and Microsoft Corporation.
All Rights Reserved.