American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy

Volume 5, 2019

From Research to Learning

J. Robert Loftis
Pages 89-122

Beyond Information Recall
Sophisticated Multiple-Choice Questions in Philosophy

Multiple-choice questions have an undeserved reputation for only being able to test student recall of basic facts. In fact, well-crafted mechanically gradable questions can measure very sophisticated cognitive skills, including those engaged at the highest level of Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of outcomes. In this article, I argue that multiple-choice questions should be a part of the diversified assessment portfolio for most philosophy courses. I present three arguments broadly related to fairness. First, multiple-choice questions allow one to consolidate subjective decision making in a way that makes it easier to manage. Second, multiple-choice questions contribute to the diversity of an evaluation portfolio by balancing out problems with writing-based assessments. Third, by increasing the diversity of evaluations, multiple-choice questions increase the inclusiveness of the course. In the course of this argument, I provide examples of multiple-choice questions that measure sophisticated learning and advice for how to write good multiple-choice questions.

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