Writing Assessment Questions #2

Writing Assessment Questions #2

Instructional designers who have received a batch of questions from a subject matter expert (SME), undoubtedly had a fair number of True/False style questions authored. Or perhaps, you caught yourself committing this crime.

The first attempt writing questions is most likely, not of the desired quality, but it’s a start. On your first editorial pass, rethink how those questions can be massaged into an effective evaluation. Remember, writing is a process, not a product and will take some time and several edits.

I ask novice test writers to start simple using the guidelines I mention in Advice for SMEs Writing Multiple Choice Questions. Though not extensive, those guidelines help the novice tremendously without overwhelming them with all the rules and guidelines around writing sound questions. I’ll demonstrate how I took a True/False style question and made it more interactive.

Here is the original question.

True or False: Personal protective equipment is defined as any item that can be used to prevent a worker from being exposed to a hazard including such things as gas detectors, safety signs, trench boxes, and traffic cones.

This question is attempting to assess whether or not an individual can identify personal protective equipment from other types of safety equipment. I took an interactive, visual approach to get the learner motivated.

The question was rewritten as:

Select the personal protective equipment used to prevent a worker from being exposed to a hazard.

In this scenario, I did not indicate how many to choose because I wanted the learner to be able to identify, visually, the equipment worn by an employee from other safety items.

Next, I identified a list of equipment, assembled a series of images and organized those on a slide. I designed the question to enable the learner to select all personal protective equipment shown on screen. Below are the correct answers and distractors with a screenshot of the slide. As you can see, this is a far cry from the original True/False style.

a.  Incorrect pictures { gas detectors, safety signs, traffic cones

b. Correct pictures { safety goggles, rubber boots, leather gloves

test question example

My approach took about an hour to develop, but the results provided the learner with real, on-the-job equipment.

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