Multiple choice questions (MCQ) are popularly known to help in survey questionnaires and education exams. When gathering data for research, we think about two things—the kind of questions to ask and what tool should be used to ask these questions.
One of the major tools used for data collection is the questionnaire. Questionnaires are research instruments consisting of a set of questions to collect relevant information or data from respondents. In other words, they can be simply defined as a written interview.
There are different types of questionnaires used in research, and they are classified based on the type of questions they contain. In this article, we will be reviewing the Multiple choice question types and how they are used for research purposes.
A multiple-choice question is a type of questionnaire/survey question that provides respondents with multiple answer options. Sometimes called objective response questions, it requires respondents to select only correct answers from the choice options.
MCQs are mostly used in educational testing, customer reviews, market research, elections, etc. Although they take different forms depending on their purpose, they have the same structure.
A multiple-choice question consists of the following parts:
1. Stem: A stem is a question. The questionnaire should make sure the question is straightforward, error-free and is relevant.
2. Answer: This is the correct answer to the question. The correct answer may be determined by the questionnaire, respondent or some set down rules both the questionnaire and respondent do not influence.
3. Distractors: The distractors in multiple-choice questions are the other incorrect responses added to make up the choice options.
This is a multiple-choice question type that uses images as choice options. It is best used for questions that require visual identity. A common example is ReCaptcha, a security measure that confirms human identity or a picture quiz question.
It can also be used for educational testing purposes. Below is an image multiple choice question that asks respondents to identify a cat.
This question asks respondents to identify wild animals. It is multiple select questions, while the former is a single select.
This is the most popular multiple choice question type among questionnaires. It uses radio buttons to list the various choice options. In most cases, radio buttons are used for single select questions.
Here is an example of a radio multiple-choice question used in collecting nominal data.
Here is a binary example of a radio MCQ that takes nominal data of the respondent’s gender.
Checkbox questions are multiple-choice questions type that uses a list of checkboxes as options. They are the most ideal for questions in which multiple answers can be selected.
Checkbox MCQs are mostly used for multiple answer questions. Let us consider this example which takes data of the devices a respondent has.
It can also be used for single-answer questions by creating a maximum response validation with Formplus.
This is a multiple-choice question that allows respondents to select a single option from a dropdown list. Single select is not only used for questionnaires but also website menus. The dropdown menu is an example of a single select choice question.
It mostly uses a hamburger button as the stem (i.e. question). In the image above, pricing, features, templates, blog, and login are the choice options. The answer is determined by the respondent.
Here is another example of a single select MCQ that is used in questionnaires.
This is used to select multiple answers from a list of options. It is mostly used for questionnaires or surveys and cannot be used as a website menu.
It may be used by restaurants to take orders from customers like in this case. The respondents have the opportunity to choose more than one option from the list.
Multiple select choice questions also have the “Select All” option that allows respondents to easily select all options without having to go through the stress.
Star rating is an interactive multiple-choice question type that takes answers on a rating scale. This rating option is used to take ordinal data.
It is mostly used by businesses to get customer reviews on their products or service. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Bolt (Taxify) use a star rating to rate their drivers. Google and Apple play store also use a star rating to indicate reviews on mobile apps.
A restaurant trying to improve its service may use a star rating to gather data on customer views on specific parts of its service.
Heart rating is also an interactive multiple-choice question type. It uses the heart or love symbol as a rating scale.
This rating scale uses a more personal approach to collecting data. It is mostly used for reviews by businesses who want to have an emotional connection with their customers.
In this example, the questionnaire uses the word “love” in the question, appealing to the emotion of the respondent.
Event planners may also use the heart rating scale to get data on how people feel about the panel sessions at the event.
The rating scale is a type of multiple-choice question that takes input from respondents using a linear scale. The scale can either be vertical or horizontal depending on the questionnaire.
The above is a vertical example of a rating scale that asks respondents to rate their excel skills. Here is a horizontal or inline example of a linear rating scale.
This is a multiple-choice question type that uses a table to ask questions and list options. The example below collects ordinal data of customer feedback using radio buttons. It is a 3 point Likert scale example.
The matrix scale options can be further increased into a 5 point Likert scale. The first row contains a list of the choice options while the first column contains the questions. The other cells in the table contain the radio buttons.
A matrix scale can be used to ask multiple questions at a time. That is, it can have two or more stems.
This highly interactive multiple choice question type uses emojis/smileys as a rating scale. It collects data of the respondent’s mood and allows them to visualize their emotions.
A weight is assigned to each smiley on the scale, and used in the analysis of the data gathered.
Many organizations use smiley ratings because of their interactive nature and emotional feel.
This multiple-choice question type collects binary data, which in this case is the thumbs up and thumbs down. The thumbs MCQ is also a rating scale question.
The option includes an emoji or image representing the thumbs up and thumbs down, which means like and dislikes respectively.
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Multiple-choice questions are the most common type of question used in surveys/quizzes. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use the multiple-choice features on Formplus.
There are various multiple-choice question features on Formplus and they fall under two main categories, namely; ratings and choice options. In this example, we will be using the Choice Options.
We will edit our form into anything we want. In this guide, we will be creating a quiz that asks respondents to identify a non-continent.
Step 3 – Customise
You can also customize the forms in the Customise section. Formplus allows you to change colors, add images and even personalize your forms.
For rating options:
Go to the next step, which is editing.
Uses of Multiple Choice Questions
Data collection is an integral part of the research, and there are various tools used in collecting data. One of those tools is online and offline surveys/questionnaires.
Surveys are mostly used to collect categorical (qualitative) data, and one of the techniques used by researchers are multiple-choice questions. Multiple choice questions help researchers easily gather data from respondents.
MCQ can be used for both scientific and marketing research. Let us consider this competitive market research example:
Which of the following phone brands are you familiar with?
This example is multiple select choice options.
Multiple choice questions are mostly used in the objective section of tests and/or exams. It is a common technique for student evaluation in the US and other parts of the world.
Benjamin D. Wood developed the multiple-choice question in the early 20th century to test students. It became more popular in the mid-20th century when scanners and data-processing machines were developed to check the results.
Although there are arguments about whether multiple-choice questions is a good technique for educational testing, it is still commonly used. Below is an example of a multiple-choice question in education.
If x+2=5, what is the value of x?
Online registration forms are known for using multiple choice questions for data collection. It is used in all online registration process.
When registering on a website, for instance, a respondent is required to input details like country, title, gender, etc. These questions are mostly asked using a drop-down menu. Consider the following examples:
b. What gender are you?
It is also used by Human Resources Managers during the employment process. Each stage of the application collects data through multiple-choice questions.
During the first application stage, they ask applicants to enter details like their highest level of education. For example:
What is your highest level of education?
During the prescreening stage, they give applicants aptitude tests to test their ability. This ranges from the test of maths, business, language, listening, etc. For example:
How would you react if a customer complains about the meal?
When attending to patients, psychologists need to collect data about the patient. They use different multiple-choice question types to ask questions from the patient.
This is very necessary for the psychologist to have a proper understanding of the patient and determine the type of illness and; ake proper diagnosis and treatment.
Which of the following emotions do you feel often?
Multiple choice questions are less time-consuming for respondents and as such increase response rate. With MCQ, respondents don’t have to go through the pain of typing responses.
It aids researchers in asking straightforward questions.
The data collected from multiple-choice questions are easy to analyze because questionnaires don’t have to deal with irrelevant data. Factors like illegible handwriting, clarity of presentation, etc. are eliminated.
They are said to be compatible with mobile devices because of their ease of filling. Respondents don’t need a keyboard to type responses.
They only have to tap and scroll through the form to answer multiple-choice questions. With the popularity of online forms, it is reported that 1 in 5 respondents fill forms on their mobile devices.
Considering the absence of a mouse or keyboard MCQs make it easy to fill these forms.
There is a limitation to the type of assessment or investigation that can be carried out through multiple-choice questions. It is best adapted for well-defined investigations.
When carrying out problem-solving and high order reasoning assessments in educational testing, for instance, it is better to use short answer or essay test
There is a possible ambiguity in the way a questionnaire interpreted the input. Since the responses are not descriptive, the questionnaire may fail to properly interpret the respondents’ intent.
This may lead to analyzing the wrong data and making wrong conclusions.
In most cases, questionnaires do not leave the respondents with the option of leaving the answer field empty when filling online forms. This may lead respondents to choose any random option which may be incorrect.
Let us consider multiple-choice questions used ]n educational testing. A student who doesn’t know the correct answer to the questions may take guesses and end up getting them right.
He/She may even score higher than the intelligent ones. Situations like this do not test for true knowledge.
Multiple-choice questions have many applications in education, election, scientific research, market research, etc. Until recently, it is mostly known to be used in educational testing only.
Despite the recent uproar about the need for it to be scrapped, Multiple Choice Questions remain very popular in educational testing. A lot of top educational institutions around the world use it to administer tests on students.
Its application to marketing and customer service has helped increase its popularity. Many brands now use interactive MCQs like smiley rating, star rating, etc. to get customer reviews and other relevant information.
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