prompt n.

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 15 20:40:03 UTC 2010

>> the answer choices [are] all referred to as "distractors" (even though
one of them is
supposed to be correct)<<

Obviously I dreamed this. Please tell me that I dreamed it. (Note too how
much less economical "distractor" is than "choice." Besides being dumber.
Unless I dreamed it.)

It brings back memories of learning that the once satirical _multiple-guess
test_ is now often used neutrally and without irony.

It also somehow resonates wuth the CNN commentator (presented as nonpartisan
expert in pedagogy) who observed today that attempts by Texas schoolboards
to require the teaching of creationism in public schools is perfectly
understandable, because "History is always written by the victors."



On Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 1:24 PM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: prompt n.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In psychometrics, the body of a multiple-choice question is usually
> referred
> to as "the prompt", but ed publishers call it "stem" or "root" with the
> answer choices all referred to as "distractors" (even though one of them is
> supposed to be correct). ;-) The editors I've worked with sometimes would
> differentiate between the "question stem" and "prompt", the latter being a
> general comment that applied to multiple questions, including instructions.
> This seems reverse of what test specialists use, but these two groups
> rarely
> talk to each other. But it can get very confusing if you work with both...
> VS-)
> On Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 12:35 PM, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
> >
> > Typically, when I assign a paper to a class, I will write out and
> > distribute several sentences of instructions and advice.  All of a sudden
> > (it seems to me), my students are referring to such a document as "the
> > prompt." (I would call it simply "the assignment"--or maybe, if I wanted
> to
> > sound informal, "the specs").
> >
> > When asked about the term, some of my students associate it with their AP
> > classes in high school. Is it a (behaviorist?) term that emanates from
> > colleges of education? The use doesn't match any of the entries for
> _prompt_
> > n.2 in the OED.
> >
> > --Charlie
> >
> >
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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