Five Ways to Ensure your Assessments are Meaningful and Impactful
Assessments are the keystone of e-learning courses. The results reveal if your audience has learnt and retained the knowledge you’re attempting to impart, where gaps in knowledge lie, and whether your overall training has been successful. Effective assessments should be directly linked to each learning objective of your course, sparking learners’ memory of the key takeaway messages, all the while aiding in the transition from theoretical to applicable knowledge.
Here are five ways to ensure your e-learning assessments are meaningful, memorable, and impactful.
1. Set clear expectations of the journey ahead
Make sure learners aren’t in the dark about the assessment journey that lies ahead of them. If you plan to include assessments at the end of each learning module, tell learners so they know what to expect and can prepare in advance. Let learners know what proficiency benchmarks they should expect to meet throughout the course so that if they fall short, they know exactly what skills they need to improve to advance. The goal should be to guide learners smoothly through the course assessments, not surprise them with twists and turns.
2. Give plenty of feedback
There’s no sense in waiting until the end of the course to tell learners how they performed. Feedback is one of the most effective tools in helping learners adapt their behaviour and build their knowledge base. What’s the use in telling learners they’re incorrect if you aren’t going to nudge them in the right direction after the fact? Offer directional feedback after each assessment so learners know which section of the course to review before their next attempt. Be sure to include a post-assessment feedback screen that informs learners which questions have been answered correctly and incorrectly; this allows them to course correct.
3. Don’t stick to a single assessment type
Variety is the spice of life, and there are many more types of assessments than multiple choice. Making use of different types of assessments at intervals throughout a course will keep learners engaged and motivated. The same old true or false questions at the end of a module only demonstrates the most basic grasp of concepts and does little for engagement. Switch up assessment types and use those that deliver the most meaningful feedback. Also, cater to as many learning styles as you can by including visual or audio stimuli during assessments. Creative explorative assessment environments that are inclusive and don’t leave any learners behind.
4. No trick questions!
We’ve all completed multiple-choice assessments in which one answer is blatantly, stupidly wrong, another is still clearly wrong (but not as silly), and the remaining two are left to provide any element of challenge. It’s no wonder employees get the impression that some e-learning is a box-checking exercise. The success of assessments depends not only on the quality of the questions you ask, but also the quality of the answer options provided. Decoy options should still be relevant, provoking learners to think about the consequences of each choice. Avoid trick questions; remember, your goal is to train, not catch out your learners.
5. Study the results
Use the analytics available through your learning management system to review the outcome of the assessment. Assessments offer valuable analytics for your organisation, so don’t miss the opportunity to view assessments from an executive lens. Were most of your learners unsure about question six, or was the wording ambiguous? The outcome could indicate that you need to amend a question or cover the content more thoroughly during the course. The more meaningful the personal assessments are to each learner, the more valuable the data is for your entire organisation.
Written by Rob Ewart