Multiple choice questions have been a mainstay of assessments and other knowledge checks because they are relatively easy to produce, can be graded automatically, and the results are easily comparable. However, due to their limitations, they have mostly had to focus on a narrow type of superficial awareness and knowledge.
Short sims, a new type of educational simulation, has now made it possible to retain the strengths of multiple choice tests, while testing entirely new areas of student knowledge, in a way that is often more engaging and satisfying.
Short sims can put students in social situations with many possible options. For example, a student can be put in the place of a doctor interviewing a patient, or a police officer interviewing a witness.
Short sims can present complex processes for students to perform, remembering past decisions. This could be rebuilding an engine or completing some multiple step math problems. Short sims can even give diagnostic feedback or partial credit.
Short sims can make it easier for assessment to use interactive diagrams or other visuals. Students can identify the right piece of equipment to do a certain task, or the right place on a map. These can be multiple step (first choose the right state, then the right region in the state).
Short sims can also be adaptive, tailoring subsequent situations based on past results.
Most importantly, these new assessment item types can be constructed in a time frame that is in line with creating traditional items. This is critical to generate items in sufficient number to be useful. Also unlike serious games, short sims have no learning curve to use, are platform independent, and can be completely handicap accessible.
Short sims are also useful of course, to develop knowledge, not just measure it.
This presentation will be delivered by Clark Aldrich, who is an internationally recognized simulation expert, and has just completed a year-long development effort building short sims for The Gates Foundation’s open education Economy 101 textbooks series.