What is an Assessment?
An assessment is the process of testing or documenting a person’s attitude, knowledge, and skills in measurable terms. In eLearning, assessments are done within an LMS platform and are used by instructors to identify how well learners have understood course content.
Assessments also help the learners to measure their learning progress. The results of your training programs can establish if your training efforts were successful, whether your audience learned and absorbed the information you intended, and can identify knowledge gaps for future improvement.
An effective assessment should tie to the learning objectives that you had set when creating your courses. It should also remind learners of key takeaway messages of your courses and help them to transition from training to implementation in the real world.
Assessment is one of the most common elearning topics. For information on other popular elearning topics, visit this page.
Types of Assessment
This type of assessment can have one or multiple correct answers. Multiple-choice assessments are best used when there is a definite and correct answer and other viable options. An example is when you present a learner with a real-life situation to test their knowledge.
When you want learners to recall specific facts, it is best to use a fill-in-the-blank type of assessment. Since the answer will not be displayed anywhere on the screen, the learner will be prompted to remember.
In this type of assessment, you will make an allocation for more than one correct answer. You should also expect synonyms and misspelled words.
True or false assessments are used when there is a clear and definite answer. Facts, policies, and legislation are some of the material that can be tested in this type of assessment. Since only one definite answer is applicable, learners usually respond fast. Also, true or false questions are easily graded.
Matching types of assessments are used to assess a learner’s memory in relation to facts. They also test their ability to establish relationships between definite objects and terms. When creating matching assessments, provide clear explanations on how to answer questions.
To add, remember that learners will be using recognition versus recall skills. Recognition is when the learner will recognize an answer on the screen. On the other hand, recall is when the learner will remember the answer without being prompted.
Drag and Drop
This type of assessment allows learners to sort, group, and rank options and not just pick correct answers. The learner interacts with other objects on the screen since they will be picking elements from one part of the screen and dragging them to other sections.
Drag and drop assessments are best used when you want learners to identify steps in a process or a sequence of events in the correct order.
When it comes to elearning, the above are the most common types of assessments. However, there are more formats for you to explore. Your authoring tool, whether inbuilt on your LMS or is a third-party solution, will mostly come with many formats. Ensure you experiment with a variety of these formats to evoke interest in your learners. Importantly, you need to figure out which question types are best suited to the knowledge you are testing.
These types of assessment include gamification, branching scenarios, and simulations. They are used to test a learner’s decision-making based on the actions they perform. They are also interactive in nature and keep learners engaged and motivated.
General Principles of Assessment
The general principles of assessment are guidelines that ensure that an assessment is effective, useful, appropriate, and plausible. These principles are important and should be taken into consideration since assessment is an integral part of learning that determines learners’ levels of accomplishment. There are five general principles.
This applies to time and cost constraints experienced during the development and administration of an assessment. Essentially, an assessment should be economical to administer.
The format of the test should be easy to understand and solving the test should be achieved within a meaningful timeline. Additionally, the assessment method should be concise and time-efficient.
These are tests to measure what an assessment claims to be capable of measuring. They include content validity, construct validity, criteria validity, consequential validity, and face validity.
This is the stability of scores over time and different rating measures. There are four types of reliability:
- Student-related: They include personal problems such as sickness and fatigue.
- Rater-related: They include subjectivity and bias.
- Test-related: This has to do with the nature of the test.
- Test-administration-related: It entails the conditions that the assessment is subjected to.
An assessment is deemed authentic if it is contextualized, meaningful, contains natural language, relevant, based on an interesting topic, and replicates real-life scenarios and experiences.
Washback refers to the impact or effects that an assessment may have on learners. It can either be positive or negative. Positive washback entails the desired impact or effects of an assessment while negative washback refers to the unintended impact or effects of an assessment. Instructional planning can be used to achieve positive washback.
When You Should Assess Learners
Learners should ideally be assessed before and after your training program. The benefit of testing during those times is that you will have pre-training feedback that you can compare with post-training feedback of the course. Undoubtedly, you can’t tell how much your learners have learned if you don’t know how much they know before they take your course.
In addition to testing before and after training, you should include knowledge checks after delivering segments of training material. Assess your learners at logical levels instead of waiting to do so at the end of the training.
Benefits of Assessment
Having the highest-quality content is important to ensure that your learners are getting the best training. However, having quality assessments that meet your training objectives is an equally important aspect.
You might have the best courses out there, but if you can’t effectively test whether your learners understand your content, it renders the whole point of training useless. Hence, assessment helps to complement training by testing if your content was delivered as you intended.
The results of an assessment will help you know if a course was well planned and if there are any modifications that you need to make for future learners. Below are some other benefits:
- Assessments help to measure if your elearning goals are being fulfilled and if the content is appealing to your audience.
- They focus on key learning points of your content to ensure that learners have the minimum required knowledge.
- Taking cost-time analysis into consideration, assessments help organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of training and if it was worth investing in.
- They measure the strengths and weaknesses of training to know which areas need modification or improvement.
Designing and Implementing eLearning Assessments
When many people hear about assessments, what mostly comes to their minds is the tests and exams that come at the end of a course. But that is not always the case. eLearning assessment is an ongoing and well-executed process that combines all aspects of the elearning experience.
The following are the steps taken while designing and implementing elearning assessments.
- Developing an Assessment Plan
In this step, the training manager has to answer these questions: What is going to be tested? How and at what time will the assessment be administered? Who will measure and analyze the data collected?
For elearning courses, tasks should be delivered and corrected throughout the course’s duration. Assessments should be given at logical intervals during the training period to test specific topics being covered. At the end of the course, the learners should sit for one comprehensive assessment that covers all topics in a given course.
This way, learners will get feedback on the steps they have taken towards progressing their learning. Indeed, it is a perfect way to internalize concepts.
- Collecting Information
During this stage, the information entered by a learner during the learning period is collected. It is also during this step that you should be clear about three pertinent things:
- Assessment criteria: This entails the information to be collected.
- Assessment sources: Where to find information related to the assessment.
- Techniques: The procedure and instruments to be used.
- Developing an Improvement Strategy
Once the information is collected, it is analyzed, and then used to develop an action plan. During this step, some important questions to ask include: Did the training meet its objectives? Did the learners understand the key points of the training? How can the training be improved?
While developing an improvement strategy, it is important to identify the mechanisms of information collection, and analyze the resulting data if you need to create an effective elearning assessment model.
Developing eLearning Assessments
If your organization conducts training via a learning management system (LMS) with inbuilt course authoring, it will be easy to incorporate assessments into your courses. You can read more about course authoring tools on our blog post.
Still, if you are using a third-party course authoring tool, you will be able to achieve the same result. Authoring tools allow you to pick question types, fill in information regarding a particular question, and give the learner feedback if the answer is correct or incorrect.
Ways of Creating Meaningful Assessments
Instead of having one major assessment, it is better to use an integrated assessment method throughout your training. Keeping that in mind, here are some ways to create meaningful assessments:
Create an Assessment Journey
Having one major assessment at the end of a course is a sure way to keep your learners anxious. It also promotes a culture of memorizing course content as opposed to understanding the content. Instead, you can gear learners towards the final examination by including learning checks and mini-assessments throughout the training period.
Keep them engaged by providing quizzes, self-reflection opportunities, and question and answer sessions to prepare them for the final test. Regular check-ins at key learning moments will ensure every topic is understood and also help in knowledge retention.
Feedback is part of the assessment. Especially, provide feedback where incorrect answers have been given. You can do so by giving the correct answers or requesting the learners to revisit the topics in question.
Incorporate All Learning Styles
Multiple-choice questions are not the only available option. Still, you can add context to multiple-choice assessments. For instance, contextual framing and visual stimulation can greatly enhance the experiences of learners with visual and auditory disabilities.
You can also include an explorative environment or provide content and let the learners find the answers. This adds context and results in an inclusive experience.
Challenge Your Learners
Some types of assessments such as multiple-choice tests can fail to challenge learners. This is because one of the options may be obviously presented as the right answer while another is presented as the definite wrong one.
You don’t want your assessment to be a box-checking exercise. Therefore, quality is key as it introduces the element of challenge. Even if you are using a multiple-choice assessment, you can challenge your learners by providing decoy answers that will provoke them to think hard about the consequences of each option.
Clarify Your Expectations
Make clarifications on certain important aspects. For instance, make it clear what will happen if a learner does not pass the assessment. Such clarifications will help to reduce anxiety earlier during training.
Analyze the Results
Your learning management system will give detailed analytics on the outcome of every assessment given. Review these outcomes to understand certain aspects of your assessment. For instance, if 80% of your learners did not understand question 4, then it means that the question needs to be reworded or changed completely. It could also mean that you did not extensively cover the topic addressed in the question.
Over to You!
Having read all the information that we compiled for this article about assessment, it is easy to see that it is not just about posing random questions to your learners. To design and develop an effective assessment that will yield great results, you need to plan, put in place information collection mechanisms, and analyze the resulting data.
If you need a tool that can help you create courses as well as assess your training content, Tovuti LMS is a good fit for your organization. Our platform comes with a course authoring tool capable of incorporating assessment into your courses.