Designing multiple-choice question (MCQ) assessments with impact

Designing multiple-choice question (MCQ) assessments with impact

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Date: 14 - 28 Jan 2021 Venue: Online
Type: Workshop series Fee: £225

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This interactive series of three workshops will help you understand how to design and use multiple choice questions (MCQs) for a variety of educational purposes, and how to effectively design them for optimal impact. Taken consecutively over three weeks, each session builds on the learning from the last, with a chance to implement and reflect on the content in between. 

The workshops have been designed for anyone with a responsibility for writing questions, developing assessments or managing the production of tests, examinations and other assessments.

If you are new to assessment design, or have limited experience, this series will give you everything you need to get going. Or if you are more experienced in the field and want to refresh your skills, or are involved in training others in designing MCQs, this series will increase your understanding of the underpinning principles and boost confidence in your practice.

Workshop dates

Week 1 14 January 2021 | 12:30 - 14:00 (UK time) Title: MCQs – the thinking before the writing
Week 2 21 January 2021 | 12:30 - 14:00 (UK time) Title: Writing MCQs with impact
Week 3 28 January 2021 | 12:30 - 14:00 (UK time) Title: MCQ item evaluation and review

Course outline

In this fast-moving and uncertain assessment landscape, multiple-choice questions (MCQs) have the potential to be an indispensable tool for educational practitioners. Well-designed MCQs can be used diagnostically to differentiate students, identify student strengths and weaknesses, test the effectiveness of teaching interventions and inform your future teaching practice. MCQs also have the advantage of being able to sample large areas of content quickly and reduce overall workload.

This series of three workshops will take you through how to effectively design MCQs in order to take advantage of their many uses and equip you with the strategies to optimise your MCQ design.

  • Week 1 - Discover the advantages and disadvantages of using MCQs, and explore how to think about MCQs in the context of an overall assessment
  • Week 2 - Gain practical skills on how to design MCQs that go beyond knowledge recall and assess higher order skills such as analysis and evaluation
  • Week 3 - Learn effective ways to evaluate and review the quality of your MCQs, identifying potential issues and improving their quality

Throughout the series, you will learn by using a variety of real-life examples. You will also have an opportunity to critique, edit and practice writing test items. 

In addition to the workshops, you will take away resources to support you in applying the learning to your own context and structuring your future MCQ design process.

Key learning outcomes

By the end of the three sessions you will have:

  • Gained an understanding of the relationship between the principles of assessment and the design of MCQs
  • Learned how to diagnose potential issues with MCQs, improving confidence in your practice
  • Developed strategies to improve each stage of your MCQ design process, following analysis that you have conducted, giving you the tools to advance your practice

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Course trainer

Mark DowlingMark Dowling moved from secondary school teaching to work at Cambridge Assessment in 1989, initially as the Subject Officer for Economics and Business Subjects, then also acquiring responsibility for the establishment of Modular A Levels and for Assessment Administration. From 1998 he has specialised in International Examinations, and from 2004 to 2015 was Deputy Director (Standards) in the Assessment Services Division of Cambridge International Examinations, with a secondment to be Assessment Quality Advisor for the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority in 2006-7.

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