Perfecting eLearning Assessments: 7 Factors To Keep An Eye On

Perfecting eLearning Assessments: 7 Factors To Keep An Eye On
Summary: I’m sure you agree that assessments are at the heart of eLearning. Well, then you also know that there is no compromising on their quality. Read this article to know about the 7 things you need to keep an eye on, to ensure your eLearning assessments are effective.

7 Steps To Developing Flawless eLearning Assessments

Assessments in eLearning are used to gauge if the expected level of learning has been achieved and if learners are capable of translating whatever has been learned to real-world applications. This is one of the core tasks involved in designing an effective learning experience and thus there can be no compromises.

However, even though you have assessments in online courses, do you still come across situations where you sense your employees did not quite reach the expected learning outcomes? Well, one of the reasons can be tied to the way you assessed your learners, which probably had some loopholes. As a training manager, you should be aware of the ways you can steer clear of loopholes within online assessments.

1. Do You Provide A Pre-Test To Your Learners?

A pre-test is all about assessing the learners’ existing knowledge, prior to assigning them an eLearning course. William Horton, the author of the book eLearning by Design, suggests that a pre-test should be included for every eLearning course.

Wondering Why A Pre-Test Is Of Such Prominence?

Let’s say you planned on training your employees on a list of the data privacy policies that exist in your organization. Every learner will have their own assumptions. While some believe the subject is of no use to them, some believe they are already aware of everything that’s going to be discussed. But once you include a pre-test, learners will be aware of their knowledge gaps.

This will lead to them paying much better attention and focusing on their weak points. Besides this, once a learner completes the course, takes the final assessment, and scores well, a sense of achievement is instilled.

2. How Often Do You Assess Your Learners?

How often do you? Do you assess your learners often within the course or just stick to the summative assessment? Well, for an effective learning experience, it is suggested that you assess your learners early and often.

Imagine you rolled out a course to train your sales representatives on the new products in your organization with the aim to help them efficiently impart the knowledge to their customers. The course consists of various sections each covering aspects of the product such as the features and benefits, and a summative assessment at the end. You notice your employees found it hard to score well in the final assessment.

Why has this happened? By the time your learners grasped all the information presented in the course and reached the final assessment, they obviously could not remember all that they had learned.

So, What Do You Do To Avoid This?

Instead of just assessing learners using a summative assessment, include formative assessments sprinkled throughout the course, after every learning point. For example, in this example, formative assessments can be included after each aspect is covered, an assessment after the features and uses and another one after the benefits.

This helps learners cement the knowledge they just acquired, avoiding the intimidation they feel when they have to take up a final assessment. The feedback provided will also help them identify where they had gone wrong, thus being able to correct themselves.

3. Are The Assessments Fair Enough?

There might be times when your learners feel that the way they are being assessed is unfair. It is very important that you ensure the assessments provided to your employees are fair to all learners. Not ensuring this will lead to demotivating learners.

Here are a few ways by which you can ensure assessments are fair:

  • Ensure that all the questions posed are linked to the learning objectives and not outside the scope of the knowledge shared in the course.
  • Ensure the time limit imposed is reasonable for all learners; i.e., even learners who aren’t native speakers and those with vision and reading problems should have sufficient time to answer the questions.
  • Ensure there are no trick questions. These are usually included to lead learners into choosing the incorrect answer, so they become more attentive. Another method used to trick learners is placing the hardest questions at the start. This will only dishearten learners and make them lose their self-confidence.

In reality, these questions will only make learners fear assessments and erode their trust. Hence ensure the questions are straightforward and easy for the learner to ace them.

  • Solicit feedback from your learners once an assessment has been completed. Ask them if they felt any of the questions were unfair and if yes, why they felt so.

4. Are The Capabilities Of Authoring Tools Being Used?

Most modern eLearning authoring tools, such as Lectora Inspire, Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, iSpring Suite, possess a lot of capabilities to make assessments more practical and intriguing.

Pool Questions

How will you know if learning actually happened or your employees just got familiar with the assessment questions if the same set of questions is posed every time? The hard truth is that you will never actually know.

This is where the role of question pooling comes into play. Suppose you plan on assessing each learner using five questions—learning designers will have to create more than five questions. Each time a learner takes a test, five random questions from the pool of questions will be provided to them. This way, even if a learner takes up the assessment more than once, he/she will see a different set of questions each time.

Randomize Questions

Randomizing questions is all about making questions appear randomly each time a learner takes an assessment. For example, if in the first attempt the question order was 2, 3, 1, 4, 5 the order in the second attempt might be 3, 5, 1, 4, 2.

Thus, each time the learner takes the test, monotony is broken, and a feeling of freshness is observed. This feature can be combined with the question pooling feature so that questions from a pool can be selected and provided in a randomized order each time the learner takes an assessment.

Shuffle Answers

Just like randomizing questions, the choices of a multiple-choice question can be shuffled too. This is possible using the feature offered by authoring tools.

5. Are Assessment Questions Being Assessed?

Do you ensure the assessments are double-checked before delivering them to learners? Well, if not, it’s high time you ensured that happens. It is quite often noticed that a blind eye is turned to this major step, which will lead to negative feedback from learners about assessments.

A few things that need to be double-checked before delivering assessments are:

  • Is every question within the course linked to a learning objective?
  • In which part of the course was this learning objective discussed?
  • Is the time limit imposed sufficient for all the learners?
  • Are the question and all options free of typos?

6. Are You Monitoring Results?

Monitoring the assessment is as important as monitoring the results of your learners. This will ensure the development of better and more effective assessments the next time. For example, if you realize that most learners are not able to answer a particular question, you can infer that the question is either too hard or unclearly phrased.

Or maybe the assessment is timed, and most learners left several questions unanswered. In this case, you identify that maybe the time limit is too less or either the questions are too hard or long. This way, issues can be identified and rectified when creating assessments in the future.

7. Is The Feedback Provided Constructive?

It’s human nature to crave for feedback once a task is completed. Your learners will do too. But you need to ensure the feedback you provide is meaningful and constructive, leading to an improvement in their learning.

  • Ensure the feedback is not just restricted to ‘Yes, you are correct or ‘No, you are incorrect.’ An explanation of why the learner was right or wrong should be provided.
  • Feedback should not be provided in such a way that the learner feels embarrassed or insulted.
  • Ensure learners are given credit for the questions they got right. Along with this, also suggest alternatives for how they can proceed further. For example, let them know they were almost close to the passing mark, so they can review the summary and retake the test or maybe if they want an in-depth understanding, they can restart the lesson. Doing this will encourage them to retry and score better the next time.

As authoring tools and Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are getting more sophisticated day by day, so are their capabilities to improve learning delivery. While authoring tools aid in the easy development of eLearning assessments, Learning Management Systems facilitate easy tracking of these assessments and also generate a wide range of reports. Using learning analytics through an LMS will, in fact, do a lot more; from predictions on your learners’ performance to delivering training according to the needs of your learners.