Assessing the Quality of Multiple Choice Questions

I am often asked about how one knows whether a multiple choice question is “good” or not. Expertise in the field always makes the final decision, but there are guidelines and statistics that can provide very helpful support in writing and refining multiple choice questions.

Nikole Hicks, PhD, RN, CNE, wrote a Fairness of Items tool (FIT) to guide writing and assessment of multiple choice questions. Read more about her development of this tool. I have her permission to share it with OSU College of Nursing faculty, so email me (Joni) to obtain a copy.

If you are somewhat familiar with statistics and need a quick guide to quiz item analysis, refer to this PDF from Anne Schoening, PhD, RN CNE.

A more detailed explanation of item analysis of quiz questions is presented in this article McGahee and Ball (2009). You can access the full text of the article through the OSU Health Sciences Library.

As always, please consult with the your instructional design experts on the CON-IT team if you need additional assistance with question writing and evaluation.

H5P for interactive course content

Brad Thompson, CON IT employee and grad-entry nursing student, introduced H5P in our most recent Flash Friday.  He showed us how to create content such as flashcards, interactive video, and self-assessment quizzes with H5P.  He described H5P features and functions, provided examples, and demonstrated how to integrate H5P learning objects into a Carmen course.
H5P is a free and open-source application you and your students can access online in a web browser. See Brad’s previous blog posts on H5P for more information.
View a recording of Brad’s H5P webinar.


Creating a Self-Grading Quiz on H5P

In a previous entry, you learned how to create a set of flashcards on H5P. Flashcards are an excellent study tool, but some students may simply memorize the cards themselves rather than actually learning the underlying concepts. For that reason, an excellent tool to reinforce the material on the flashcards is the self-grading quiz. Below is an example quiz based on this flashcard set:

To create an interactive quiz of your own, go to the H5P content creation screen and select “single choice set” from the drop down menu.

The first dialogue box will set the title for the entire quiz.

In these dialogue boxes, you will fill out the question and up to four possible answers. The form will default to two possible answers. You must click the grey “add answer” button to create new blank answer dialogue boxes. It is important to note that the first dialogue box is for the answer that you want the quiz to grade as correct. It is also important to note that the quiz will randomize the order of all four possible answers. This will be important later.

Question 5 is an important example because I chose to include an “all of the above” style answer. However, it is important to note that even though this answer is the last one on the form, it will not necessarily appear as the last question within that answer set (eg: it could appear answer 1, 2, 3, all of the above OR 1, all of the above, 3, 4 etc.). For this reason, you should choose a wording similar to “all answers are acceptable” and avoid answers that make reference to other answers in terms of their location within the answer set.

This image shows the grade ranges you can choose. This section starts relatively blank. To create the grade ranges for this quiz, I clicked the blue “add range button” until there was one grade range per question, then clicked the white “distribute evenly button.” However, If you choose to, you can manually adjust the grade ranges. The text boxes next to each grade range are the messages that will appear if a student receives a given score.

In these final steps you can further customize the behavior of the quiz and the messages and prompts that appear on the quiz. For this tutorial, these settings have been left as default, however I encourage you to play with these settings and contact CON IT for any additional assistance you may need. As with other content on H5P, you can edit the download, embed, and copyright buttons that will appear. Once you are happy with your quiz, click the pink save button. If you followed these directions, you should end up with a quiz identical to the one at the beginning of this blog post. Once you have completed your quiz, it can be embedded into Carmen or into your u.osu blog for use as a study tool. For help configuring your quiz, or assistance in implementing an H5P quiz in your classes or study groups, please contact CON IT for additional assistance.

Multiple Choice vs. Multiple Answer

The “Quizzes” tool in Canvas is a easy way to allow students to take a quiz or survey online. Not only is this feature easy to use, it also comes with a large number of  features to customize a quiz to fit your exact needs. You can make it a quiz or a survey, a graded or a practice quiz, and even add a variety of question types such as matching and true/false.

With 12 different question types to choose from, there may be some confusion as to which question type does what. Two very similar sounding types are “Multiple Choice” and “Multiple Answer.” Although they sound the same, they produce very different types of questions. Below is a tutorial on how each of these question types work.

Multiple Choice vs. Multiple Answer tutorial

Go to the quizzes tab in Canvas and select “+ QUIZ.”


Select the “Questions” tab.


Select “+ NEW QUESTION.”


Here you can select which type of question you want. In this tutorial, we will select “Multiple Choice.”


Type your quiz question into the text box.


Type your possible answers into the texts boxes.




Select “+ NEW QUESTION” again. This time instead of selecting “Multiple Choice,” we are going to select “Multiple Answers.”


Note the warning above the text box. “This question will have a checkbox next to each answer and the student must select ALL the answers you mark as correct.”  Do not select this question type if you only have one correct answer in your question. For questions with only one correct answer, use “Multiple Choice.” For questions where you want the student to select more than one correct answer, use “Multiple Answer.”


Type your quiz question into the text box.


To turn a “Possible Answer” into a “Correct Answer,” click the arrow next to the answer. Notice if you were in a “Multiple Choice” question, the “Correct Answer” would simply move to that question row. You cannot have more than one correct answer in “Multiple Choice.”


Type in your possible answers into the text boxes. Notice since a net and volleyball are both needed for a volleyball game, both answers are marked as correct.




This is what the quiz questions will look like from the student perspective. Notice “Multiple Choice” questions have circles (also called radio buttons) next to the answers while “Multiple Answer” questions have squares (also called checkboxes).

If a student sees a question with squares (checkboxes) by the answers, they will assume more than one answer choice is possibly correct and can choose more than one answer. This circle and square convention holds true across quizzes and survey created in many different applications, including Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, and the NCLEX.  This is why it is important to only use “Multiple Answer” questions on your quizzes if you want the student to believe that more than one answer may be correct.


Notice “Multiple Choice” questions will only allow the student to select one answer while “Multiple Answer” questions will allow the student to select several answers.

Students can review their Carmen quiz submissions!

Students!  Are you looking for the spot where you can view your Carmen quiz results?

Your instructor must first set up a Submission View in Carmen for you to view your quiz.  Depending on the settings your instructor chooses for this Submission View, you may be able to see the questions you got right and/or wrong, the answers you submitted, and the correct answers.To view your quiz submission, go to your Carmen course and to the quiz you want to view.  Click on the small drop-down arrow to the right of the quiz title, and choose Submissions.ViewQuizSubmission-1f3lyqx