Getting Answers: Tips to Design Effective eLearning Assessments
Learning is challenging. It requires learners’ attention and interest. Measuring what is being learnt is even more challenging. It demands teachers frame assessments in a way that not only tracks learners’ performance and tests their knowledge of the subject matter, but also challenges their thinking skills and reinforces learning. An effective test is about more than writing good questions. It is also about having the right test design, so that you are not only evaluating learners, but also providing a learning opportunity that overcomes learning barriers and facilitates learning transfer. Here are few quick tips to help you design effective assessments for your elearning courses:
Determine the purpose of an assessment
Don’t throw assessments in your courses just because you have to. Before adding an assessment, determine its purpose. Are you testing to grade students or just involve and motivate them? Is this a short quiz, a practice assessment or the final exam of the course? If you want to stir up students’ attention, why not add a short game or a simple activity in place of an assessment? Deciding all this beforehand will help keep things organized and consistent. It will also help course developers set the important features of the test such as target number of questions to ask, the complexity level of the test, number of attempts permitted, the time frame for the test, and so forth.
Write assessments after writing the learning objectives of the course
The secret behind effective assessment lies in writing them as soon as you are done writing the learning objectives of the course. Why? Because it is the time when you are 100% focused on what you want to teach in your elearning course. Identify the learning goals of your course and write questions about each of them. Write as many questions that you can think of after reading the learning objectives of your lesson/course, organize them by level of difficulty (i.e. pre-assessments, quizzes, practice exam or final exam), and add them in their respective assessment item banks. The practice of pre-writing assessments will help you reinforce your learning objectives, and you will not end up asking things that were not even included in the course.
Help students prepare for the test
Online training lacks interaction between the learner and the teacher. Every course has a major take away that online teachers want to test, which may be overlooked by the learner. The best method to help learners get the most out of your elearning course and do their best in the elearning assessment is to help them prepare for it. How? Reinforce the concepts that were taught earlier by adding them in the form of activities or practice exams. Also, it is always a great idea to have a lesson summary at the end of each module, which can serve as a great review tool.
Shuffle those questions
Always enable the “randomize questions” option in your course authoring tool. It is a good idea to jumble the questions of your test, so that the learner is not presented the same set of questions multiple times (in case he or she fails to pass the test in first attempt). Be careful with “randomize answers” option, especially if you have “all of the above” or a logical order in your answer choices.
In classrooms, if teachers find students’ performance lacking, they provide remedial instruction to overcome those learning gaps. Similarly, in an online training, if the desired performance goals are not met, content remediation is applied. Content remediation is providing the essential knowledge or skill to learners (in case they fail to pass the quiz or exam) before they can move ahead in the course, or complete the course. While configuring the course policy of your elearning course, always keep the remediation feature in mind. What is the learner expected to do if she or he fails the exam? Should she or he be allowed to proceed in the course, or take the entire lesson or course all over again?
Not every elearning course needs to have multiple quizzes and final exams. The number of quizzes and/or the length of your final exam are hugely dependent on your course type. If you are aiming to author a simple PDF course, just having a final exam at the end would suffice. However, if your course consists of various lessons and modules, adding quizzes at the end of each lesson would be a great way to check your learner’s performance, and provide the best experience to your students while they acquire new skills.
Try out these tips in your elearning courses to keep your elearning assessment focused and effective!