The multiple choice question is nothing new. It's always been an easy way to test knowledge as questions are necessarily straightforward and unambiguous. Learners have traditionally enjoyed them as they're perceived to be easy as sometimes the process of elimination, or sheer guess work, can get you a mark when your knowledge was shaky.
In the age of the computer a multiple choice question becomes even more attractive - the questions can be presented on a screen and answered with a click. The computer can present questions in response to previous answers given and the computer can both mark each paper but also analyse the answers of a whole cohort to identify weak areas of knowledge (or even weak questions). Important exams now take place using this method.
The ease of the MCQ exam though should not be the only consideration. Imagine this question:
"Describe the process of making an omelet"
If a learner had to use a few lines to answer in their own words they may well learn more effectively than if the question was as follows:
"Which of the following describes the process of making an omelet"
A. Break eggs, add milk, heat butter in a pan and then add the eggs. Stir for a few minutes until cooked.
B. Break eggs and whisk. Melt butter in the microwave then add eggs and microwave for 2 minutes"
C. Separate eggs into yolk and white. Whisk whites until stiff then fold in yolks gently. Bake in a low oven for an hour"
D. Break and whisk eggs with milk. Heat butter in a frying pan. Add eggs, allow to cook before flipping.
E. Break eggs carefully into a pan of boiling water. Leave to simmer for one minute then leave in hot water for 5 more."
Even someone who didn't know what an omelet was, but did know what scrambled eggs, poached eggs and meringue was, could guess the correct answer.
In my EMA I want t investigate ways in which the benefits of the multiple choice question can be utilized whilst not sacrificing deep and broad learning.