October 12, 2020 |

Learning Assessment

In-house training sessions in the workplace typically tend not to have an assessment component, with formal assessment tending to be more a hallmark of an e-learning event or some type of certification training.  However their may come a type when you as a trainer will be called upon to create an assessment tool.

Assessment stress

When assessment is done, the objectives of the learning event will govern the type of types of assessment actions chosen with the assessment ensuring they are appropriate to your specific situation. As a broad principle, concentrate on the learners’ ability to apply content rather than their ability to recall facts when creating assessment items. In the type of most IT based/technical training that I deliver this tends to be the most common way of achieving this.  For example, if it is a PowerPoint course, the latter part of the session will be asking the attendees to put their new skills to use in creating a specific type of presentation.  This is basically a free form activity that allows the learner to assess their own abilities and gives them a chance to work out if there are any gaps.  The activity is not “scored” or judged, but instead is a litmus test to help the learner self-assess their progress. This is non-confrontational for adult learners to experience some feedback and assessment and fits in with the principles of Adult Learning Theory (Malcolm Knowles,1970) as it allows for a more self-directed than didactic approach.

But, if an assessment instrument is necessary (e.g. for an e-learning module), then the following should be kept in mind:

The assessment itself should be valid. To achieve this need to write test questions which accurately assess the knowledge and skills specified in the learning objectives. The assessment questions should obviously be clearly written and easy to understand. If the question is poorly worded and the learners (through no fault of their own) misinterpret the intended meaning of a test question, the results would no longer be valid. To improve validity, you should write assessment items that focus on the application of knowledge rather than just comprehension levels. As you create the questions you should consider having professional colleagues (e.g. SMEs, other L&D professionals or instructional designers) review them for you and then if necessary, they can be revised based on the reviewers’ feedback.

The most common types of assessment questions are:

  • multiple choice: probably the most popular type of assessment in eLearning. Multiple choice questions require learners to choose the best response from several options.
  • true/false: typically measures understanding of facts such as names, dates, and definitions.
  • fill-in-the-blank, also known as completion items. This type of question requires learners to finish a sentence by filling the correct word or phrase in a blank.
  • matching: consists of a list of questions or statements and a list of responses, with learners required to find a match or association between each question and response, and
  • free responses or short answers or essays: not as commonly used, this type requires learners to understand the content in order to answer the question. and require a higher level of thinking, analyzing, and logically presenting information.


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