You just completed a mandatory online course as part of your new job. After clicking the Next button, you see the dreaded final assessment screen. Are you feeling a little anxious? Are you concerned the results may become a decisive factor in continuing in your current career path?
After clicking the Start button, what you find can vary from course to course.
Here are just a few things that I have experienced over the years from a test taker’s perspective:
1. All the answers are not plausible
2. The questions do not align with any content presented in the course
3. The majority of questions use the true and false format
4. Some questions are very ambiguous
5. The questions do not reflect the subject matter that was stressed as important
From an instructional designer’s perspective, we must look for ways to ensure our learners do not have the experiences described above. The following provides three things to consider:
First, make sure you have clear learning objectives in place. Unfortunately, very few objectives are performance-based but instead ask our learners to list this, summarize that, or describe something. Is this really how the real world works? Let’s see…
You are having problems with you car stalling when going up a steep hill. Would you want a car mechanic who can:
a) List the parts of your car
b) Describe the key features of your car
c) Summarize the steps involved in removing your tires
d) Fix your car
Any reasonable person would select D. Don’t get me wrong, it is great that someone knows the parts of the car, its features, and the steps involved in removing the tires but you really need someone who has the skills to do something. In this case, fix your car so you can get back on the road!
Second, write your assessment up front. Do not wait until your course is completed and ready to release. Have a plan for how you will assess the learners against each of the performance-based objectives. As always, use real-world context, identify activities that fit the situation, and remove any fluff that is not important to mastering the objective. Your learners will appreciate it!
Third, design your course!
What are your thoughts on writing assessments?