MCQs: Practical skills and future directions in MCQ assessment

Multiple choice

Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are widely used in assessment across the health professions.

They allow broad and efficient sampling and application of knowledge and there is growing evidence for their test enhanced learning benefits (particularly when post-test feedback is provided).

Yet contrasting views exist and MCQ items are also much maligned for testing only recognition of a correct answer and encouraging rote learning and memorisation.

Join David Swanson, Anna Ryan and Simone Elliott as we argue for the strategic use of well-designed multiple choice questions within a program of assessment.

Engage in a practical session designed to improve your MCQ item writing and post-test feedback skills.

Registration is free for University of Melbourne staff.

To secure your place please register at:

About the facilitators

Professor David Swanson is an assessment expert. He is currently serving as Vice President, Academic Programs and Services for the American Board of Medical Specialities. He is an Honorary Professor of the Melbourne Medical School and has been an annual visitor to the Department of Medical Education since 2014. He worked with the National Board of Medical Examiners for more than 25 years, most recently as a Vice President in the Assessment Programs Unit. He is widely published on topics related to assessment of medical decision making; written and computer-based clinical simulations; assessment of clinical skills with real and standardized patients; patterns of performance on admissions, licensure and certification examinations; and issues in computer- and web-based testing

Associate Professor Anna Ryan is the Director of Assessment in the Department of Medical Education. She co-ordinates and teaches Assessing Clinical Learners – a core subject of the EXCITE Graduate Certificate in Clinical Teaching. Anna has an active program of research and supervises MD research projects, EXCITE Master's and PhD candidates. Her overarching interest is in assessment for learning and within the medical program this involves finding ways to maximise the learning potential of each and every assessment within the Doctor of Medicine. She is currently taking part in an international research collaboration with University of Toronto focused on test-enhanced learning which explores the timing and content of feedback for retention and transfer of knowledge.

Dr Simone Elliott is the Quality lead for Assessment in the Department of Medical Education. She teaches into the EXCITE Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Clinical Education programs. She is an experienced Multiple-Choice Question developer and she serves on the Written and Clinical Assessment Review Panels for the Doctor of Medicine degree. Simone is currently developing a program of work around conceptual MCQ items and conceptually orientated feedback as a tool to enhance transfer of learning in health professions education.

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