Pre-packaged multiple choice test tools rant

I have never used multiple choice tests or quizzes in my teaching. As a student, I found multiple choice to be excessively easy. I didn't learn anything from doing it; it was a simple identification, or maybe a very brief treasure hunt. In any event, multiple choice seems lazy to me as a teacher and a student and not a very good indicator of anything at all.

But I'm teaching a new course this semester, and historically that course has offered multiple choice quizzes instead of actual reading/writing/thinking homework. Not wanting to shake things up too much when other teachers have far more experience with this course than I do, I'm going along with it.

To clarify, another instructor has chosen a new book for the course. Generally, I think this book is fine. The book happens to come with a bunch of extra stuff from the publisher like multiple choice test banks that we are using for the quizzes, and multiple choice simulations that are almost exactly like choose-your-own-adventure books. Everything is multiple choice--selecting possible answers and finding out whether they are right or wrong. One of the testing systems makes you keep answering the same multiple choice questions in different iterations until you seem to have "mastered the question". I can take multiple choice tests for hours. I find it soothing, like playing solitaire. The answers are all there; you just have to find them.

So, I took some of the quizzes, just to see what they were like. They are easy. I hadn't even read the chapter I took the quiz on, and I can answer all the questions. Multiple choice is not a very good gauge of whether a person can actually do what they are supposed to be learning. And in our technological world, information is everywhere. We don't need to know or memorize very much because we have Google. What we do need to know is how to use the information that we can find.

I'm sure my students are pleased with the multiple choice homework, and honestly, I can't say that I miss grading their assignments every day. But the thing that makes me the most upset about all of this is that the test questions are also REALLY POORLY WRITTEN!

A correct answer to one of the few questions I got wrong (because I refused to choose this answer since it was so awful) was: "People pay good attention to good writing." What?! "Good attention"? Does that sound familiar to anyone? I mean, close attention, particular attention, even just pay attention, but "good attention"? I refused to choose that answer on the basis that it failed to apply its own message to its own statement. I'm convinced that the writing for these tests has been outsourced. That's fine. But I will happily volunteer myself as a proofreader if we can prevent this kind of weird language from ending up in a correct answer in a multiple choice quiz.

Of course, I'd rather do away with all the multiple choice entirely.