April 14, 2008

Writing Effective Questions

As exam time nears, some pointers on writing good or effective questions might be helpful. Here are some tips to consider:

Twelve Tips for Writing Good Questions (from Questionmark)
"Writing effective questions takes time and practice. Whether your goal is to measure knowledge and skills, survey opinions and attitudes, or enhance a learning experience, poorly worded questions can adversely affect the quality of the results. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you write and review questions:
  1. Keep stems and statements as short as possible and use clear, concise language.
  2. Use questions whenever possible (What, Who, When, Where, Why and How).
  3. Maintain grammatical consistency to avoid cueing
  4. List choices in a logical order.
  5. Avoid negatives, especially double negatives.
  6. Avoid unnecessary modifiers, especially absolutes (e.g. always, never, etc.).
  7. Avoid "All of the above" and use of "None of the above" with caution.
  8. Avoid vague pronouns (e.g. it, they).
  9. Avoid conflicting alternatives.
  10. Avoid syllogistic reasoning choices (e.g. "both a and b are correct") unless absolutely necessary.
  11. Avoid providing cues to correct answer in the stem.
  12. Avoid providing clues to the answer of one question in another question."

Writing Effective Questions to Promote Learning (Penn State)
This detailed website provides "easy-to-follow, quick-to-read guidance for creating questions of varied types: 1-minute essay, short essay, short-answer, check-all-that-apply, matching, along with the traditional multiple-choice and true-false."

Each question type has three sections: an overview (description & samples), construction (how to write them effectively), and check yourself (how to spot faults in your own questions).

What other sites give good suggestions about writing effective questions?... Click on the COMMENTS link below to share your thoughts!

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