Consider this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TskeE43Q1M&feature=player_embedded
The key in understanding what to ask for from students--or from anyone--is to understand what we really want. I am convinced as an educator, as a parent, and as a Baby Boomer aging into the second decade of the 21st Century that we must encourage creative responses and not just "right" ones.
Regrettably, with the NCLB mandate, there is too much emphasis on the "right answer," which, as this little clip shows, constrains creativity.
Also, there is more work involved on the front end of this type of question in contrast to the "right" way. Consider: if I am asking for the "right" way, then I have at least an answer OR a series of possible answers I can accept. Thus, my scoring of this activity can be done quickly or by a machine. If, however, I ask for a simple "complete the picture," I have shifted a significant amount of work onto my shoulders about how I want to frame my feedback.
Third, "right" seems to suggest that I know the right answer and you-as learner-have to get it from me so that you can "own" the right answer, too. However, if 21st Century learners are NOT interested in ownership, then what I have I accomplished and what have the learners accomplished? And how often does the real world break down into "right" answers? As we already know, the world is far too complex for us to consider there is one or even a "set" of "right" answers!
Lastly, we are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot with questions premising a "right" answer because we are failing to prepare students for the really world they are going lead. I don't want my future health managed by someone who believes there is only one way to manage my health. I don't want someone who is convinced they have the only right answer to my tax questions. I don't care for chefs or service people or teachers or politicians who believe they have they only right way to solve the complex problems I will be presenting them as I age into my later 60s and into my 70s.
If we are going to prepare ourselves for the future, if we are going to compete globally, if we are going to manage a generation of 65+ year olds living into their 90s or older, we have to support creative thinking and creative responses to issues now.