Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Instructional Design Recommendations

  • Eliminate high stakes exams -- consider using multiple, short assessments

  • Implement more project-based deliverables to replace high stakes exams

  • Replace multiple choice questions with short answer or essay

  • Randomize the order of the questions and the order of the answers within a question, and if appropriate, generate different values for variables

  • Use multiple types of assessments, e.g. short quizzes, forums, polling, papers, group activities

  • Utilize the services of plagiarism checker software like Turnitin for short answer or essay questions, or perhaps even forum postings

  • Utilize the services of either an online, like ProctorU, or face-to-face proctoring service

  • Have a clear Code of Conduct or academic integrity statement in the syllabus

  • Consider a brief evaluation of student knowledge to be used as a baseline prior to introducing a specific topic

Course Management Recommendations 

  • Create a large pool of questions
  • Randomize questions and distractors
  • Implement a time limit on each exam or quiz
  • Include open-ended or essay questions
  • Require students to submit quiz answers immediately and overnight any supporting work done on paper
  • Consider grading student contributions to course forums (discussion boards)
  • Call attention to the “Academic Integrity” block that is located on every course site at the beginning of the semester
  • Be explicit about what behaviors are allowed and not allowed during an online activity, especially if they vary 

Assessment Recommendations 



Questions must focus on objectives


Focus questions on what you most want people to know at the end of course. Avoid testing trivial topics.


Questions should assess knowledge or skill


Focus on content.

Write questions clearly with correct grammar and spelling. 

Consider the reading level.


Incorrect choices must be plausible


Good multiple choice questions have realistic incorrect answer choices. Avoid giveaway choices

Use Question Words


Begin question stems or phrases with a question word.


Correct: How often does a student need to attend to get a good grade?

Correct: If a student has a concern, what is the first step in addressing his/ her concern?

Incorrect: Select two (2) features of…

Objectives Drive Questions


A question should reflect the objective.


If an objective involves problem-solving, then test question should involve problem-solving.


For example, a problem-solving question might provide a scenario.

Avoid Negatives in Stem


Phrase the question stem in the positive.


Correct: A student has not been given correct information.  What  could you do to address the problem?


Incorrect: When writing good questions, which of the following is NOT important?

Use Scenarios to assess higher-order thinking

Ex- Correct:  Given the scenario shown, which solution represents the best method for preventing patient falls?

Limit number of answer choices

Use consistent number of answer choices.

Limit to 3 or 4.

Do not create questions in which all answers  are correct

Use plausible distracters

Distracters should not include give away answer

Distracters should be plausible

Identify common misconceptions or errors

Design Evaluation


Create test questions that align with your stated objectives and test the level of comprehension desired.

Multiple choice questions: test knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis. They are limited because they can be less valid due to guessing and poor distracters

True/False questions: are easy to score and quick to complete for the learner. Because there is a 50% chance of selecting the correct answer, they are not as valid as other forms of assessment.

Short answer and matching questions: Save space and test information similar to multiple-choice, but may take longer to score.

Essays: Test higher level skills and give insight into learner’s understanding. Essays test only focus on a few concepts, and take longer to complete and score.

Writing Questions

Please write questions that correspond with each of your learning objectives. At least 10 questions will be pulled from a “test bank” to ensure each learner has a unique test. The more questions you write for the “test bank”, the greater the variety will be between tests and the more difficult it will be for users to cheat.

Consider writing your test questions in the form of a scenario. Placing the content into a real world context will test your students on how they will be able to apply the information.

You may write your test questions in the following formats:

  • True/False
    • Disadvantages to using True/False question format: learners have a 50/50 chance of guessing the correct answer; they are easy; it is difficult to determine if learners really know the material
    • Tips for writing True/False:
      • Avoid double negatives
      • Avoid long or complex sentences
      • Use one central idea
      • Avoid words like always, never, all
      • Don’t try to trick the learner
  • Multiple choice
    • Avoid negative statements (for example: “Select the item that is Not…” or “All of the following EXCEPT…”)
    • Avoid using “All of the above” or “None of the above”
    • 4-5 options should be given as responses
    • Make sure that all response options are plausible (don’t make it obvious that an option is correct or incorrect)
  • Multiple response
    • Multiple response questions allow learners to select more than one option
    • State clearly in the question that the learner can select more than one (for example: “Select the three items…”)
  • Fill in the blank
    • Make sure that the answer is definite (not something that can be interpreted differently, or something that may have multiple correct responses)
    • You can enter up to 10 acceptable answers in the system to account for different user responses (take into account spelling differences, etc.)
  • Matching
    • You may have up to ten matching pairs
  • Sequence
    • Learners must put items into the correct sequence
    • You may have up to ten items to put into sequence
  • Hotspot
    • Ask the learner to click on the correct area within an image. 

Most of the recommendations above will benefit F2F classes and could be implemented for various modes of course delivery. 

  • No labels