Thursday, March 17, 2011

Creating Questions: Creating Knowledge Experts

We do a lot of custom game creation for clients--either as part of a consulting/launch package with Gameshow Pro, or as part of their event, workshop, etc. This entails taking their content--often in packets, brochures, PowerPoints, etc.--and distilling the important information, then making that information into questions.

What we've found is that, well, we're learning a LOT about a lot of different topics. Question creation is creating subject matter experts out of us! (Go ahead, ask me about the double loop process in knowledge database creation...)

This makes sense. It takes a deep understanding of material to create good questions. You have to find the key content, have a question that is appropriately relevant AND create plausible distractors.

This isn't a unique discovery, however. For years, we've been hearing how teachers have used Gameshow Pro with their students--having the students create questions for each other. So maybe it's time to start bringing question creation into the corporate world as a learning tool for trainees.

The benefits of question creation:
A creator spends an extended amount of time with materials--familiarizing themselves with both the content and where to FIND the content.
This creates a feedback loop of question creation--sharing--answering that reinforces information multiple times without feeling redundant
The creator has to absorb more information than merely contained within the question

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Implausible Distractors

One of the tricky parts about writing multiple-choice game show questions is including plausible distractors. Those are the answer options that are NOT correct, but still sound correct enough to provide an appropriate level of challenge.

However, there are some times when you want a multiple choice question, but the plausible distractors aren't so obvious or even necessary. Perhaps you just want a quick review, and it's more important to reiterate the information than to make the question challenging. Perhaps you're looking for a speedier game that relies on quick recall instead of making a judgment call. Perhaps there's just a lack of available distractors in your content.

Whatever the reason, occasionally you need an implausible distractor... and this is when we like to add a little humor into the game show. For instance, I was recently creating questions for a customer using their content, and this was a question used [content changed slightly to protect information privacy]:

Q: What's “in it for you” to search the answer database if you already know the answer?
A. Search-typing builds finger strength
B. You don’t have to retype the solution

C. It validates your answer
D. Both B&C

 The answer was D, of course. Answer option A is an implausible distractor--you pretty much know that's not going to be the answer, but it is slightly amusing. In this case, the client didn't want to conflate the content by adding more benefits or benefits that were slightly-off or *could* technically be right, but weren't.

The benefits of using humorous implausible distractors can be:
  • They break the pattern of thinking, causing a participant to pause in the routine of game play
  • They can increase the level of cognitive processing without increasing the difficulty of a question
  • They add entertainment value (and can be a place to insert relatable in-jokes)
  • They can highlight the point you're trying to make
  • They are also fun to write
Implausible distractors aren't always necessary, but in the right game play situations, they can add a level of levity and fun to even a serious game--without detracting from the content.