10 Mistakes in Elearning Design: Obvious or Confusing Quiz Answers

Last time we talked about the horror of dead-end quiz questions. When left to the default setting “infinite tries,” quiz questions can be a trap with no escape. Drag and drops, in particular, are a nightmare when attempts are not limited. But any poorly-written quiz question is a problem, and quizzes are too often left to the end of the design process as an afterthought.

So let’s continue chatting about quiz design, focusing on one particular problem: poorly-written quiz questions!

This is the tenth and final post in my series, 10 Mistakes in Elearning Design.

Here’s what we’ve already covered:

Mistake #10: Obvious or Confusing Quiz Answers

Take a look at this original design. I’ll go ahead and give you the names of the winners: Francis Crick and James Watson. Now, what radio button would you select on this slide? You can only pick one!

Let’s see – the first two bubbles are the names I want to pick, but I can only pick one. There’s an answer to choose A and B – but the buttons aren’t labeled by letter! You can guess that A and B might refer to the first two buttons, but you would definitely be left with uncertainty if you answered this way. This is confusing!

Let’s take a look at the redesign.

It’s better written in more ways than one. First off, the correct answer is easy to select (if you know the answer!). There is no “A and B” which didn’t make sense, and generally isn’t a good answer even if the answers were labeled.

You may or may not know that the other names listed in the wrong answers in this question, which are officially deemed “distractors,” are also people that are well-known in the genetics field. These names make for good distractors because they are plausible answers for those that didn’t master the content.

In the Original Design, would anyone familiar with American culture mark Benjamin Franklin as the potential discoverer? No. It’s not a plausible answer and it’s a silly waste of time.

Distractors should be plausible: bits of information or frequent misunderstandings that would trip up the learner that didn’t meet the learning objectives. Avoid using obvious wrong answers or answers like “A and B” which just get confusing for the learner.

You’ll also note that the distractors above are structured similarly. Each answer, including the correct answer, has two names. The similar grammatical structure adds to the strength of this question.

Also avoid using “select many” questions. Like drag and drops, there are so many ways to get it wrong that they get frustrating quickly (see last post on dead-end quiz questions!).

Make your quiz questions easy to use, and easy for the well-prepared learner to answer, and difficult for those that didn’t master the knowledge or skill.

Quiz Design Takeaways

In Conclusion

That’s it for this 10 Mistakes in Elearning series! I’m working on additional mistakes that I frequently see, and plan to compile everything into a single text. What other mistakes do YOU see?