Do You Ever Begin Your Course with a Quiz?

Nov 12, 2014

I was talking to a couple people the other day about whether or not they like to start their e-learning courses with a quiz. Since we were unable to come to a consensus, I thought I would open it up to the fine people of the E-learning Heroes Community.

What do you think? Do you like to begin your courses with a quiz? Why (or why not)?


33 Replies
Simon Blair

If we're talking about pretests, I'd only include them if I was expecting the learners to have relevant knowledge already. For example, in project management training as opposed to training on a brand new piece of software. I've been subjected to pretests (that I couldn't skip) in courses where I had no knowledge of the subject matter. Very frustrating!

Daniel and Jeff: I completely agree! I'm very partial to using the pretest results to show learners which sections of a course they can skip. Better yet, maybe we can give them course credit if they ace the whole test?

Wendy, I haven't tried using quiz questions as triggers before, but I can see how that would help get people interested.

Cleon and Allison: I'm HUGE fan of realistic scenarios in training. I recently developed a course where the final test used branching video. We'd show a video of a call center agent taking a call, then stop in the middle and ask how they should proceed. Depending on the learner's choice, they'd either see the "correct" or "incorrect" ending of the video. If they chose incorrectly, the feedback layer (after the video end) gave them the option to see how it should have gone.

Kim, including consequences is wonderful. So much more meaningful than "correct" or "incorrect". In fact, I'd go so far as to say we should avoid using "correct"/"incorrect" or "right"/"wrong" since that can be inferred from the results.

Shauna, good point on the WIIFM. Although I know how the pretest can benefit learners, they might not. It's up to us to communicate that benefit so that they're not wondering "why am I being tested when I haven't learned anything yet?"

Peter Rushton

I'm new at this, but as someone who has taken lots of e-learning courses, I have a bias against this idea - so I guess the compromise answer for me is ... it depends ... as in audience and purpose.

If audiences are like me they appreciate the "fast track to the end" approach - and pre-quiz assessments only slow that process down and make me think someone actually wants me to think about this ;~))

However, I see a lot of creative people in this forum and I expect you can make it work better than the one's I have run into in my past.  I just hope the answer doesn't ultimately depend on whether you are a learner or a developer.

Shauna V

Peter, the last sentence in your post is the key to all learning solutions. The learner should be at the heart of all that we do. The answers to questions like these should not be answered for development reasons or because of the developers. If we aren't doing it for the learner, with the learner in mind, then we have missed the my opinion.

Allison LaMotte

I see what you mean, but I believe that it can still be beneficial for learners because it allows them to gauge what they already know prior to the course.

However, I do think it is a great idea to create a pre-test that tailors the course to their needs. For example, people that get 80% or higher can skip ahead to chapter 2...

Peter Rushton

Hi Shauna - I like all 3 of your posts - particularly the "benchmark" and "adaptive engine" reference along with WIIFM.

Makes me think that this could be better done as a *separate* pre-test to confirm pre-reqs or skip to the next level.

Thanks for the echo on the audience perspective. I have taken too many corporate modules that focused exclusively on the corporate perspective and really missed the mark on why the audience might be interested.

Peter Rushton

You guys are a bad influence!

I decided to put together a PPT video for YouTube on PPT Shortcuts - inspired by a previous post (Your top 3 PowerPoint time-savers?) - and after some development I thought to add a "pre-test" slide (really? me?) for viewers to decide if they wanted to continue. Bad influence, all of you! ;~))

Greg Bellow

I honestly can't think of a significant instructional reasons not to offer questions at the beginning of the course. As others have mention, the implementation counts, as well as their design.

All of our courses use some level of an adaptive framework- even in complex scenario-based training (I will admit it is a challenge to scaffold scenarios in modular content at times.  The Pre-test allows us to provide learners only the instruction they need while building courses for a large heterogeneous group (10,000+ learners). 

Adaptive learning has proven to be wildly popular for our workforce and has really cut the non-productive time for yearly compliance courses.

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