Tag Archives: formative

Subverting Multiple-choice Questions for Deep Learning

Lee-Ann Sequeira

Parallel session 3, CoLab 3.6

Short Abstract
The aim of this workshop is to show through examples and evidence how online formative multiple-choice questions (MCQs) can be used to promote conceptual understanding and peer learning for students studying in and away from the classroom.

By the end of the workshop, participants would have:
• Understood how formative MCQs can be used to promote deep learning in face-to-face and distance learning
• Completed a short online formative MCQ quiz to see how it works from a participant’s perspective
• Begun to construct an online formative MCQ quiz

Back to event programme

Detailed Outline
An online formative MCQ has key features that distinguish it from a traditional MCQ that is used to test recall of information.

• The topic for the MCQ should be complex and difficult to understand. It should be fundamental to that field/module, such that it is a conceptual building block on which more advanced concepts are built (eg. threshold concepts).
• As the aim is to further the learner’s understanding, it is advisable to create a set of MCQs – about five-eight MCQs – on a single topic that explore different aspects of that topic and/or increase in complexity.
• Similar to traditional MCQs, formative MCQs have a question stem, correct answer(s) and distractors. Distractors (incorrect options) are key as they help to identify areas of confusion or poor understanding.
• MCQs can have varying levels of pre-programmed, automatic feedback, for example, referring students to a particular topic in the text or explaining certain problematic parts of the question or inviting them to attend a mop-up tutorial to discuss problematic areas identified in the MCQs.
• MCQs are often created in a virtual learning environment (VLE) which tracks the learners’ responses and generates reports showing the learners’ attempts by question, user, overall class performance, etc. in real time. These metrics can be used by the tutor to diagnose which questions or topics the students are finding problematic and accordingly focus her/his efforts in that direction.
• Learning activities such as online discussion fora and webinars can be used to explain and clarify issues identified in the MCQs (determined by the metrics) and increases opportunities for learners to ask follow-up questions and discuss them, thereby advancing the learner’s understanding.

In this way, online formative MCQs are compatible with a variety of pedagogical purposes – peer learning, the flipped classroom, self-assessment and revision, etc. Examples and evidence will be presented from a number of disciplines – economics, health sciences, physics, education, etc., including feedback from students and staff who are involved in a pilot study.

This is the proposed outline for the CoLab session:
• Introduction to MCQs
(Types and features of MCQs, merits and limitations)
• Quiz time!
(Participants take an MCQ quiz to get an idea of how it works from a student’s perspective)
• Hands-on activity: DIY MCQ
(Participants begin constructing an MCQ quiz using the guidance provided.)

307 – Experiences of formative and summative assessment in FE – Alice Bailey

This short paper will share interim outcomes of a research project at Sheffield College on the current forms and impact of engagement by learners with feedback from tutors. Colleagues will be able to develop their understanding of the student experience at Level 3 in a Business and Professional Studies environment, as well as considering implications for supporting successful transitions into Level 4 at SHU and beyond. The project broadly considered the use of formative and summative feedback as a teaching method to improve student attainment at HE. The current situation is that study skills are taught in an ‘ad hoc’ way by tutors but that these have been shown to be successful in enhancing student engagement. For example, incidents of in-module retrieval was reduced significantly year- on-year in one module. There is little overall focus, however, on students understanding what is required of them in assessment and when reflecting on tutor feedback. For most tutors, engaging students in feedback is not the focus of their energies.  The hypothesis of the project was that students who internalise academic standards perform better than those who don’t. One anticipated outcome was a reduction in the incidences of ‘in-module retrieval’ and to generally increase grades; another was to support staff in bridging the divide between L3 and L4, giving ‘weaker’ students (typically the ones who fail to achieve 40% from their first attempt) the skills and knowledge to be able to cross that threshold. Many students who opt to complete a foundation degree at Hillsborough College do so because it is a route to university (SHU) for those with only 120 UCAS points. We have to work hard to help students move from working at a low-level L3 to L4 (and, eventually L5 and L6) as many students find this transition difficult.

307 SHU L&T Conference June 2013