Okay, I feel like the multiple-choice quiz has gotten a bad rap this week and I hate hurting other’s feelings. So today’s post is dedicated to making the multiple-choice quiz feel more accepted and loved.
However, this post is going to be a little bit like What Not to Wear. I’m going to be Clinton Kelly and give the multiple-choice a make-over that it needs and deserves.
Just like there is a place for animal print in everyone’s closet (in moderation, of course), there is a place for the multiple-choice quiz. High-stakes tests almost exclusively use multiple choice tests as an indicator of reading ability…but that is the key: reading ability, not memory. I think that is where my hatred of the multiple-choice quiz lies: I’m a good reader. I swear. I am. Really, I’m a pretty good reader. But I have the memory of a fish. Multiple choice quizzes have developed a bad reputation because many teachers use them to test students’ memory or trick them. Most multiple-choice reading quizzes aren’t actually assessing reading ability, but, just like a guy with a mullet, that doesn’t mean they can’t be transformed to be practical and effective.
Oh that dreaded Lord of the Flies multiple choice question. It has haunted me since my youth. Because of this, I have made it my mission as a teacher to create quizzes and activities that allow students the creativity to explain their knowledge of what they read, as opposed to just bubbling in an answer. I have tried to create quizzes that go beyond just comprehension and really ask them to apply their knowledge. One strategy I have been employing with my students is something I have dubbed the “interpretive mindmap.” A mindmap is like a graphic organizer. They are boxes linked together by conceptual lines. Some lines have arrows on one end to indicate the action on something.
Now, to complete this successfully, students have to have some background knowledge of how to construct a mindmap. It isn’t just as simple as drawing boxes and lines. The students have to be able to explain how the lines connect the boxes. In the beginning of the year I give them various mindmaps as viewing guides to films or to discuss literary time periods. Many times I will give them a mindmap with words in the boxes and they have to write a description over the lines, requiring them to think about the use of arrows on the line itself. Below is a mindmap from the website bubble.us (described in more depth below) I have created for viewing The Crucible to model how to go about constructing a mindmap.