This article is part of the guide 6 Key Trends to 21st Century Teaching.
Flower Darby, from Northern Arizona University, and Heather Garcia, from Foothill College, presented an eye-catching poster at the Educause Learning Initiative conference this year with the title, “Multiple-choice quizzes don’t work.”
One solution, says Garcia, is for professors to give “more authentic” assignments, like project-based work and other things that students would be more likely to see in a professional environment.
she and her colleague argue that there is a way to assign project-based or other rich assessments without spending late nights holding a red pen
One approach they recommend is called “specification grading,” where professors set a clear rubric for what students need to achieve to complete the assignment, and then score each entry as either meeting those rubrics or not. “It allows faculty to really streamline their grading time,
Linda B. Nilson, who wrote an entire book about the approach and regularly gives workshops on it. The book’s subtitle lays out the approach’s promise: “Restoring Rigor, Motivating Students and Saving Faculty Time.”
two scholars wrote a book a few years ago about their benefits, called “Learning and Assessing with Multiple-Choice Questions in College Classrooms.”
For instance, in a math problem involving adding large numbers, a professor could make one of the choices the number that the student would get if they forgot to carry. If professors notice that several students mark that answer, it may be time to go over that concept again. “Even if I’ve got a class of 275, I can learn a lot about what they know and don’t know, and let that guide what I do the next day,” he says.
more on multiple choice tests in this IMS blog