3 Simple Steps To Use A Pre-Assessment In eLearning

Using A Pre-Assessment In eLearning: How To Help Create Interest Ιn Your eLearning Course

I recently had a conversation with a client and suggested the idea of a pre-assessment in eLearning modules. The client was quite worried about this idea. Here's a paraphrasing of what he said: "I’m not sure about the quiz up front - what if people get the same scores? That won’t reflect well on our training?"

A super valid point, and probably a sentiment shared by many others. So I thought I'd tackle this topic in this article.

Here are some reasons why you should conduct a pre-assessment in eLearning:

1. A Pre-Assessment Can Be Used To Create Interest In Your Subject.

It will show your employees the kinds of deep questions they (and you) will get a chance to answer as a result of this great e-learning module. Stimulate their curiosity!

When you (strategically) expose your learners’ gaps in knowledge, they will be more inclined –and curious– to fill those gaps and participate in your learning session. They'll think... "I wonder if I got this right?"

2. A Pre-Assessment Acknowledges That Your Learners Are Not Blank Slates.

Everyone who engages in learning already has a bountiful repository of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

A pre-assessment helps your learners recognize knowledge gaps, which are not a sign of weakness or fault, but an opportunity to gain a new skill. And, to enhance their current pool of expertise.

3. Use A Pre-Assessment To Customize Your Course To The Needs Of Your Learners.

Discover where you can add the most value – be responsive to their skill level and intellectual needs.

NOTE: Don't use a pre- and post- assessment as a performance metric. It's not a valid measure of performance change, it is simply another tool in the toolbelt of helping people learn and engage - but not a valid assessment of real learning... that you'll see on the job.

How To Put Using A Pre-Assessment In eLearning Into Action! 

Step 1: Build Your Pre-Assessment Right Into The Module.

Remember: Pose big and interesting questions which your course will help the course participants answer.

contextual question

Refer to the image above. Now, imagine you're Tia. You've overheard that Ella has been showing an interest in Lee... but her approach has been aggressive. Lee has recently gotten a divorce and sometimes acts agitated, but none of this has affected your team's performance. Matt told you it's just a rumor, and if something is going on you should leave it to Lee to handle on his own. What would you do?

  • A: Back off, Matt is right, this is not your business.
  • B: Bring it up with your boss, maybe she can talk to Ella about it.
  • C: Ask Ella to give Lee some space.
  • D: Have a team intervention to flush out the truth and settle the matter.

Step 2: Add A "Confidence Scale" To Each Question.

For example, if you have a couple of questions that share a situation and ask the employee to decide how they'd handle said situation, follow this question up with a three tier confidence question (see example below) that asks them to rate how confident they were in their approach.

Example of a confidence scale

Step 3: Incorporate Your Pre-Assessment As A Post-Assessment Or Incorporate The Confidence Scale Into Your eLearning Scenario Activities.

The answers may be the same, let's say they got all of them correct... but did their confidence go up? Did they get to practice making decisions, getting some serious consequences, and are now more confident in making said decisions?

Realize that anyone taking your course will come in with their own experience, values, expectations... a pre-assessment can give both you and your course participants insights... all you have to do is ask.

So, use a brief pre-assessment with some compelling questions to kick off your eLearning module. This approach helps your course participants immediately tap into what they already know about the topic (this increases retention), anticipate what they'll get out of participating (perceived value), and work through it to see if they were indeed "right" (engagement).

What do you think about using a pre- and post- assessment? Are you using this powerful strategy to engage your learners?

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References and other great resources related to this topic: 

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