Friday, 30 November 2007

Interactive multiple choice activities

This is the third part in a series that I’m writing on how to use word processors to create computer-based materials. This one looks at how we can create interactive multiple choice activities using 'dropdown' menus.

Multiple choice must be one of the most common question types in the history of education. I’m sure we all answered them when we were at school and we have all given these question types to our students.

When I was at school, we used to call them ‘multiple guess’ questions, because we knew that even if we didn’t have any idea what the correct answer was, it had to be one of the choices, so we had a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of guessing the answer correctly.

In the movie tutorial you will see how to insert the dropdown menu, add your choices and also add a ‘help text’ which can be used to give clues or the correct answer.
Students access the ‘help text’ by clicking on the dropdown field and pressing F1 on the computer keyboard.

Here’s document with some interactive fields in. Click on them and then push F1 on your keyboard to see how they work.
There are a range of ways you can give clues
  • Direct students to a part of the text
  • Remind them about time relationships (for verb tense exercises)
  • Remind them of context
  • Remind them about part of speech or word morphology
  • Give them pronunciation clues (it sounds like)
  • Give a translation
  • Remind them of the unit of the coursebook / lesson when you covered the topic
Adding clues, rather than correct answers, will help to make the exercises developmental rather than a test of knowledge / memory.

You also need to be careful in your choice of words both when you select the word that you want to use from the dropdown activity and when you add your choices.

If you are selecting words from a text, then look for clues within the context which will help the students to deduce which word is correct.

When you add the ‘distractor’ words, try to make them reasonable alternatives. You could use this exercise to focus students on common problems, by using errors from their own written texts and the correct version as alternatives. If you do this, don’t focus only on their negative aspects, but also try to include some of their positive aspects of their work, like good use of vocabulary.

Anyway, hope you find this useful and by all means leave a comment if you have used this feature in other ways.




Dan said...

That's a great idea Nik! I've made scores of forms in Word for office purposes, but I just never thought about using it in that way.

I teach a number of academic writing courses and this would be a great way to focus students on correcting their own mistakes. Don't be surprised if I write this up some day....I'll make sure to give you credit :)


Nik Peachey said...

Glad you found it useful Dan. Credit is always nice too.