Introduction to Philosophy FA '12 @ Cortland College

Quiz Questions


  1. To review and engage with material from the unit and
  2. to prepare a study guide for the unit quiz.

The main purpose of this assignment is to provide a structured way to review for the unit quiz by creating both potential quiz questions for the quiz itself and a study guide to help prepare for the quiz.  Students will work on this assignment both alone and in groups.


  1. Create 4 quiz questions before class (2 multiple choice and 2 short answer).
  2. Discuss and Correct the questions among your group members.
  3. Rewrite questions and answers.
  4. Submit 10 quiz questions as a group.

1. Create: Before the class where we will be working on Quiz Questions in groups, write four quiz questions on your own, using your notes and readings from the unit.  Two of these questions should be multiple choice and two of them should be short answer.  See Question Guidelines below for descriptions and examples of each question type, as well as other guidelines.  Email your questions to the instructor before class with the email heading Quiz Questions [Unit #].

2. Discuss and Correct: Bring a copy of your quiz questions to class, either in hard copy or on your computer.  At the beginning of class, you will be broken into groups.  In your groups, go through each student's questions one by one and see if the rest of the group can answer the questions.

While discussing each question, correct any problems with the questions.  For instance: Is the question unclear?  Are the answers or answer key wrong or ambiguous?  Use your notes and the readings to correct one another's questions.  If in doubt, compare potential solutions and talk it out.  Explaining the concepts and information you've learn in the unit can help both you and your fellow students.

4. Rewrite: As a group, choose ten questions from your group members' work to submit to the instructor.  You should choose these questions based on two criteria:

  1. You will be graded on the questions and answers you submit, so you should submit questions that you are fairly confident in.  Work out any problems that you might have within the group using notes and readings.
  2. The corrected assignment will serve as your study guide for the quiz, so make sure you cover as much material as possible in the ten questions.  This will assure that you are better prepared for the quiz.

Rewrite these ten questions.  Work together to phrase the questions in the clearest way and develop three good answer choices (for multiple choice questions) and a good, complete answer key (for short essay questions).

5. Submit:  Put the ten revised questions in a word document with all of your group members' names.  Email it to the instructor by the end of class with the email heading Quiz Questions [Unit #].

Question Guidelines

There are two kinds of question types: Multiple Choice and Short Answer.

Multiple Choice Questions

Purpose: Identify the meaning of key concepts, terms, and ideas.

Format: Multiple choice questions have two components: the question and the choices (this should be obvious).  The "questions" should either ask for the definition of a certain term or give the definition to a certain term and ask for that term as the answer.  Then there should be three choices: the correct answer, an almost correct answer, and a clearly wrong answer (to someone who knows the material) that is still related to the material from the unit.  Indicate which answer is the correct answer.

Example (1): What is Behaviorism?

a) The theory that behavior is caused by the soul. [Clearly wrong]

b) The theory that the mind is nothing more than our external actions. [Correct answer]

c) The theory that our external actions are the only visible signs of the mind. [Almost correct]

Example (2): What term refers to the descriptive fact that people act out of self interest?

a) Psychological egoism [Correct answer]

b) Ethical egoism [Clearly wrong]

c) Descriptive egoism [Almost correct]

Short Answer Questions

Purpose: Compare two or more concepts or apply concepts to a problem (either concrete or imaginary)

Format: In writing short answer questions, students will need to write the question and a complete and accurate answer key that either provides all the possible answers or a standard for judging answers given.  The answer key should also provide a guide to awarding partial credit.

Example (1): What is the difference between positive eugenics and negative eugenics?

Answer Key: The difference is in the methods used to achieve the genetic outcomes.  Positive eugenics achieves its goals by encouraging the reproduction of those with genetically desirable characteristics.  Negative eugenics achieves its goals by discouraging the reproduction of those with genetically undesirable characteristics.  Partial Credit: Answer gives only one definition, but that definition is correct.

Example (2): How would a Kantian deontologist respond to the Small Town Murder thought experiment?

Answer Key:  A correct answer must state what ethical standard a Kantian deontologist would use, show understanding of the thought experiment, and give plausible reasons for the Kantian's response.  For instance: A Kantian deontologist would agree with the rule utilitarian--it would be wrong to kill the innocent man, even if it would create greater happiness.  The Kantian would say that this is wrong because doing so would be using the innocent man as a mere means and not as an end in itself.  Partial Credit: The answer gives a correct answer for a Kantian and gives reasons but uses the wrong thought experiment.  No partial credit if they simply describe the thought experiment.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When working on your individual Quiz Question assignments you should write two of each type (two multiple choice and two short answer).  Do not repeat information across questions.  For instance: if you ask a multiple choice question about thought experiments, you should not write a short answer question about thought experiments, use another concept.  If you write a short answer comparing utilitarianism and deontology, you should not write any other questions using ether of those concepts.

When compiling your 10 questions as a group, you should not repeat any information across questions of the same kind. For example: you may not ask two multiple choice questions about the concept of thought experiments, but you may ask one multiple choice question and one short answer question about the concept of thought experiments.


There are two components to the grade:  First, the revised group questions will be graded.  Second, the individual question assignments will be graded and used to modify the group grade for each individual in the group.  Thus, although the initial grade will be based on group work, each student will receive an individual grade.  Students who clearly put effort into their initial assignment will gain bonuses to the group grade.  Example: The group grade is a B, but the individual's initial submission shows extensive effort and high quality questions, so they get an A.  Students who show little effort in their individual assignments will lose points on their group grade.  Example: The same group grade (B), but the student's individual submission had no answer keys or underdeveloped answers, so they get a C (or lower, depending on the quality of the questions).

Grade Description

Fulfills all requirements of the assignment and demonstrates complete understanding of the material.  Group assignment has 5 multiple choice and 5 short answer questions with complete, thought out questions and answer keys.  Individual assignment demonstrates strong effort.  Or group assignment meets criteria for a B, but individual work shows outstanding effort.


Fulfills all requirements of the assignment, but has some minor problems in understanding of material.  Group assignment has 5 multiple choice and 5 short answer questions with complete, thought out questions and answer keys.  Questions might have minor problems in either the questions or answer keys.  Individual effort shows strong effort.  Or group assignment meets criteria for a C, but individual work shows outstanding effort.


Fulfills most requirements of the assignment, but has one or more major problems in understanding of material.  Group assignment has all 10 questions with major problems in understanding or has a complete understanding of the material, but does not have all 10 questions or underdeveloped answer keys.  Individual assignment shows a basic level of effort.


Fails to fulfill the requirements of the assignment and demonstrates problematic understanding of the material.  Group assignments does not have all 10 questions and has one or more major problems in understanding the material.  Individual assignment shows basic level of effort.


No group quiz questions submitted or submitted questions do not deal with unit topic.  Or group quiz questions meet criteria for C or D, but individual quiz questions show little to no effort.  Or group quiz questions meet criteria for D or higher, but no individual quiz questions were submitted.