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Perhaps the solution is to

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Perhaps the solution is to build a museum to store (I was tempted to use the word arcane but won't ;)) educational curiosities so that centuries from now archeologists can muse over what they were used for, where they came from and why they persisted for the period of time that they did.

Elementary Educator

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To lump all multiple choice test into one category is like stating that there is only black and white questions and answers in the world today. That is not always true; many of the multiple choice tests given by the state have answer choices that no matter how the student works the problem, their answer will be there. It comes down to, are the students reading the questions carefully to understand what the problem is asking them to do. I look at multiple choice tests as one measurement of what my students can do, along with classroom participation, teacher observation, and written assignments. How does a multiple choice test prepare a student for the real world? Well, there are many ways to answer this question. Depending on how you answer will decide an outcome that can be good, bad, or indifferent, in any given situation. Sounds like a multiple choice question to me.

There is a big difference

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There is a big difference between human decision making (have a peek at the behavioural economics lit) and deploying an apparatus that masquerades as a measure of something (long bow there). And re the example of an intersection. Lots of other choices. Leave the car, hail a cab, catch a bus, etc etc etc. Whereas in a M/C test - there is only x options.

Retired Principal

I know its fashionable to

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I know its fashionable to bash standardized testing, but many of the responses seem a bit over the top, Even the one from someone whose corporate decision-making experience was limited to brainstorming and tweaking, not choosing from options. Must be from engineering, obviously not finance Or marketing or accounting.
No matter. Unlike many of the respondents, I drive without a GPS in my car. When I get to an intersection where I'm not sure what to do, I have to make a choice about going left, right, or straight. Multiple choice.

Teaching kids to do what machines are good at

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A horse and buggy was handy a long time ago, so too the ability to recall bits and pieces of information with or without the aid of our "helpful" unconscious. Not any more. Machines do recall. Machines find stuff. Machines make connections. Teaching kids to do things that machines are good at is galactically stupid. Education needs a war of independence. Independence from managerial bean-counting "Kings" who urgently need to be put aboard the B Ark.

Before becoming an educator I

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Before becoming an educator I worked in the corporate world. I can assure you that decisions in this realm are rarely about "selecting the best option from a short list." In the corporate world (and in the rest of the world too) problem solving involves brainstorming many, many solutions, then taking that long list and tweaking, combining, expanding, morphing, and further developing solutions until you find one that works for the moment--knowing that you will continuously review and revise this solution over time. This process does not, in any way, mirror a multiple choice test. Bury them, I say!

No one has convinced me of

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No one has convinced me of the usefulness of mutiple choice questions. If you want to know if a student knows a piece of information (whether simple or complex) or knows how to execute a certain process why not just have the student give you the information without giving him/her the answer. If they know the material they will be able to tell you/work the problem. If they don't they won't. If we are talking relatively low level/recall give them a fill in the blank question. If we want midlevel comprehension material give hem a short answer question. If we want complex information give them essay questions or, as in math, have them work the problem. Particularly in math, either they know it and their answer is right or they don't and their answer is wrong. Giving the kids the answer provides an easy way out. If kids have mastery of the material (isn't mastery the level we teach to) they will be able to tell you what you want to know. I still see multiple choice as the easy way out for the teacher because it is so easy to grade. There is also a hidden problem with multiple choice tests. Too many people do not teach for mastery, which results in a vague understanding by the kids. Thus multiple choice tests become an easy way out for everyone.

With any existing educational

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With any existing educational practice it is always useful to ask when was it invented? for what purpose? what were its acknowledged limitations then? It does not make for pretty reading given the current usage rates. Formal education is brilliant at keeping old/dead education practices alive which is in part why computer use in schools/universities has been so mind numbingly silly (old wine in new bottles made sense in the 1980's. It does not any more. The old/dead practices need to be called what they are, zombie education. If you are interested in a longer argument, see 2012 here: http://www.chrisbigum.com/cj/FinishedWriting

I think the points made are

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I think the points made are fair, however, its possible to creatively subvert these types of questions...I did some work on using MCQ's as learning objects to stimulate critical thinking using them as a lesson starting point. Asking kids to work out which answers are wrong and more importantly, why, is a good starting point!

Retired Principal

Let's praise multiple choice

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Let's praise multiple choice tests lest others bury it. They're real world. Choices, and picking the best answer, not quite the same as the right answer. When any executive with half a brain convenes with his/her closest advisors, its about selecting the best option from a short list. Multiple choice!

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