Understanding Question Iterations & Writing Good Questions

There are three keys to creating a good game in Knowledge Guru:

  1. Clear, relevant game topics that have importance to the learner (e.g. there’s some reason these matter).
  2. Well-written, specific objectives that link to the game topic they are associated with.
  3. Well-written, relevant question sets that assess a player’s ability to meet the topic’s objectives.

This post focuses on number 3.

Understanding the concept of “question sets”

Creating good Guru questions starts with realizing that you need to create “question sets.” For every topic objective, you need at least one “question set,” which includes 3 iterations of your content. The slides below explain what a “question set” is and how each question in a set appears in a Quest game type and a Legend game type.

12 Tips for Writing Good Questions

Once you grasp the concept of the “question set,” you can start crafting good questions. Follow these 12 tips for success.

  1. Use the topic objectives to help you write the questions. The questions you write should directly assess the player’s ability to achieve the objectives.
  2. Keep sentences short. Break a long sentence into two shorter ones. You typically are not assessing reading comprehension so make sentences easy to read and understand.
  3. Spell out your first use of acronyms unless you are 100% positive that every player will know their meaning.
  4. Avoid making the longest response choice the correct one. This is a common mistake. Learners instinctively will want to pick the longest response because odds are high it is the correct one.
  5. Keep response options short when you can. Again, do not make the game about reading comprehension.
  6. Use images when they can be helpful. Often a chart can help you present a series of steps or terms. An image cal also help you create a scenario that can include details that will not fit into a standard Question Stem box. We created a short demo game that uses lots of images so you can see what we mean. You can register for – and play – this game here. We made the content generic, but it draws on concepts we have seen in client games.
  7. Put the players in the question when it makes sense. “You are at a customer site.” “You just saw a safety incident.” “Your customer just told you he likes your competitor’s product better.” Learners want content that feels personal to them and their jobs.
  8. For times you need a “select all that apply” use an image to show case options. You cannot do a “select all that apply” by inserting options in the response fields. See the demo game to get ideas on how to do “select all that apply.”
  9. Make sure your feedback for a missed question is the same or similar for all three iterations (A, B, C) you create in a question set. It is the easiest way to verify that you have written iterative questions. After you write your learning objective, try writing the feedback for a missed question first and then writing the question itself. This helps verify that you are writing a question that links to your objective – and that your objective is specific enough. You can then copy/paste the feedback into the “B” and “C” feedback fields and write your “B” and “C” questions to match this feedback. You may tweak feedback across iterations, but the core message should be the same.
  10. Do not use a big word or phrase when a smaller one will do. “Use” is better than “utilize.” “To” is better than “in order to,” etc.
  11. Incorporate scenarios. People use factual information in context on their jobs so make the questions contextual as well. Instead of “Review the chart. Which behaviors show active listening?” try “You just finished a meeting with Dr. X. Review the image to get a description of your meeting. How effective were you at active listening?”
  12. Avoid “all of the above” or – even worse “none of the above” as response choices. Do not make a game about figuring out what does not belong. This is a different skill set entirely than figuring out what should be part of something.