#50 When using multiple-choice questions, remove the options initially
Research suggests this might help students' retreival
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💡 A tip to try in class this week 💡
An interesting study published recently suggests that when using diagnostic multiple-choice questions to assess students’ knowledge of the meaning of words, delaying showing students the choice of answers (ABCD) for a few seconds to provide an opportunity to recall the answer without the choices visible led to better retention than when the answers were available from the start.
Now, as ever, we need to be careful in going too crazy with this finding. It is one experiment, done on vocabulary, with adult learners. But the theory seems sound. One of the main objections to the use of multiple-choice questions for assessment purposes is that the answer is always present, so students have a pretty big cue. This modification avoids that issue, whilst also benefiting from the inclusion of powerful distractors to either draw out misconceptions or provide fertile ground to discuss those wrong answers.
So, in a classroom context, we might show students the following question:
Give students a few seconds to consider the answer, and then show the full version:
Students can respond using ABCD cards, mini-whiteboards, or my current favourite, “heads down, fists on head”.
At Eedi, we are hoping to run an experiment soon to see if this variation to multiple-choice diagnostic questions is as effective on the retention of mathematical knowledge as it seems to be for vocabulary. But in the mean time, why not give it a try?
What do you think of this idea?
What would you need to change to make this tip work for you?
When could you try it for the first time?
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