Creating Successful Assessments For eLearning – Part 1

Creating Successful Assessments For eLearning – Part 1
Summary: An assessment is one of the most important elements of a training program that must be created after taking several elements into consideration – the types of assessments that must accompany an eLearning course, the kind of questions, and much more. Let's see what it takes to create effective assessments for eLearning.

How To Create Successful Assessments For eLearning

No eLearning course – in fact, no course that aims at transferring knowledge to learners, is truly complete until it is accompanied by provisions to assess the outcomes of learning. In fact, training comes to an end only after an assessment. The importance of creating effective assessments for eLearning cannot be downplayed. Good assessments benefit both learners as well as instructors. They help instructors ascertain:

  • The effectiveness of a training program.
  • Whether knowledge transfer has occurred.
  • Whether the knowledge transferred is in keeping with the learning objectives of the course.
  • The amount of knowledge transfer that has taken place.

Engaging courses increase attention, focus, and retention, and are more successful than those that provide no means to engage learners; assessments are an extension of this engagement and serve the purpose of engaging learners to make learning more meaningful and effective. They also act as strong motivators to practice until perfect.

There are two types of assessments for eLearning courses:

  1. Formative assessments.
  2. Summative assessments.

1. Formative Assessments. 

Formative assessments are provided at the end of every chapter/module, throughout the course. Each chapter/module in a course concerns itself with a learning objective. After a particular learning objective has been dealt with, learners are presented a formative assessment that must be attempted before moving on to the next chapter.

Rather than grading learners, the aim of this type of assessment is solely to support learning by providing immediate feedback. Feedback provided for wrong answers lets the learner know why the answer was wrong; while feedback for right answers encourages learners and also explains why the answer was right. Either way, feedback works as positive reinforcement.

2. Summative Assessments. 

Summative assessments are provided at the end of every course and used to measure the learning achieved after taking the course. They indicate the learner’s final achievement in the course and to what extent they have reached the goals of the course; so the questions are aligned with the learning objectives that have been set in the course.

Feedback may or may not be given at the end of the summative assessment. However, this assessment lets learners know if they have ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ the course.

Question Types Used In Formative And Summative Assessments

1. Single Select. 

Easy to prepare as the questions are taken directly from the content that has been studied. An easy way to score accurately, check recall of concepts, and assess the current understanding of what has just been learned.

2. Multiple Select. 

Although it is more time consuming to create (finding suitable distractors is a time-consuming task), it can be used to measure knowledge recall as well as higher order thinking (not possible with the single select method).

3. Match The Following. 

Used to identify the relationship between two sets of data. While this is effective to test a lot of similar information with the least use of space, it cannot be used in all situations and is difficult to construct. Learners must differentiate between similar types of information. Again, this question type can be used only when a lot of similar and parallel information is available.

4. Drag And Drop. 

Used to categorize information and enable learners to learn an entire topic as a whole.

5. Drop Down. 

Used to categorize information; but the more questions provided, the more difficult to provide feedback for this question type.

6. Word Builder. 

Used to get the learner to recall words/technical jargon that has been used or introduced through the course.

7. Jigsaw Puzzle. 

Like any jigsaw puzzle, pieces of information must be pieced together to make sense. Especially useful in learning specific content that when pieced together, makes sense as a whole.

8. Gaming. 

A game is incorporated in an assessment. A right answer would get the learner closer to winning the game. Could be used to ask questions from across the course.

Creating Assessments For eLearning 

An eLearning course must be created in accordance with learning objectives and the goals of what must be achieved through this course. While the goal is an overall picture of what must be achieved, learning objectives are a breakdown of this goal into smaller, doable, actionable, and measurable objectives. Because learning objectives form the main aim of the course, assessments must be created along the same lines as the learning objectives, with at least one question of the assessment aimed at testing the knowledge for each learning objective.

A well-constructed question is made up of two parts – the stem and the response options.

The Stem

  • The question stem must be created in a way that maps out the learning objective.


Learning objective: List the ways to create value for distributors.

Question Stem: Which of the following values does our organization provide to distributors (multiple select)?

  • Appropriate action verbs must be used to create a learning objective. The verb must be a doable and actionable verb so that the results and outcomes of the verb are measurable.
  • Questions must also be based on the importance of the topic.

Response Options

  • Response options must include the response as well as distractors. The distractors must be consistent and standardized, and belong to the same family as the right answer.
  • Correct answers should contain no ambiguity and must be very clearly stated.
  • Clues that give away the right answer must be avoided.

For more information on how to create assessments for an eLearning course, download the free eBook Instructional Design 101: A Handy Guide For eLearning Designers.

eBook Release: CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions
CommLab India Rapid eLearning Solutions
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