Writing E-Learning Assessments

If you need to design some e-learning assessments but you’re new to e-learning, you may have questions about some of the basics, like, what you should include in your e-learning assessments, and when and why you should assess your learners in the first place. Before you start writing assessment questions, it’s definitely a good idea to have a grasp of the general concept. Here’s a primer to get you started. For help on creating good assessments, review How to Write Good E-Learning Quiz Questions.

What Is an E-Learning Assessment?

An e-learning assessment is the process of assessing or documenting, in measurable terms, a person’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes, via an online method. Assessments are used in e-learning courses as a way for an instructor or manager to identify how well a learner has understood course content. Assessments also help learners gauge their own knowledge and learning progress.

What Are the Different Types of E-Learning Assessments?

There are a variety of e-learning assessment types. Some of the more popular ones include:

Multiple Choice
This oft-used assessment method can have single or multiple correct answers.You may want to use multiple choice questions when there’s a clear and correct option, as well as some viable alternatives. For example, you may test a learner’s ability to apply knowledge by presenting possible responses to a real-life situation.

If you’re testing knowledge that has a very clear and definitive answer, true/false questions are a great option. Material that works well for true/false-style assessments includes facts, legislation, and policies. When there’s only one clear answer, learners can respond quickly. Plus, true/false questions are easily graded.

Drag and Drop
Drag-and-drop questions let learners sort, rank, and group options instead of just picking them. This question format prompts learners to interact with objects on a screen, because they need to select one option and drag it to another part of the screen. If you’d like learners to identify the steps in a process or a specific sequence or timeline of events, drag-and-drop questions are a great option.

Fill in the Blank
Use fill-in-the-blank questions when you want learners to directly recall specific facts. When the answer isn’t listed anywhere on the screen, learners have to remember it without any prompting. When using fill-in-the-blank questions, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to allow for more than one correct answer and for misspelled words and synonyms.

Consider matching exercises to assess a learner’s ability to remember facts and the relationships between specific terms or objects. Be sure to provide clear explanations for how to answer matching questions, and keep in mind that when using matching questions, learners are using recognition (to recognize the answer on the screen) versus recall (remembering the answer without any prompting).

While these are some of the most common e-learning assessment types, there are many more you can explore. Check out your e-learning authoring tool to see what it offers. It’s a good idea to use a variety of question types to keep things interesting to learners. Also, be sure to use question types best suited to the knowledge you want to test.

Why E-Learning Assessments Are Important

You should refrain from designing assessments “for the fun of it” or adding them in at random. Only incorporate assessments when necessary or when there’s a clear instructional purpose.

Assessments are often required to demonstrate, sometimes to a third party or auditor, that an individual has reached a certain level of ability. Sometimes they’re required as part of a qualification or certification program, or are mandated by corporate policy or even by law.

When You Should Assess Learners

Ideally, you should assess your learners both before and after your e-learning course. This way, you have a pre-course baseline of knowledge that you can compare to your post-course assessment results. After all, you can’t really tell how much people have learned from your course if you don’t know how much they knew before taking it.

In addition to assessing learners before and after they take your e-learning course, consider adding knowledge checks throughout the course after segmented chunks of content. Try to avoid waiting until the end of the course to assess learners on something they saw on the very first slide; instead, assess at logical intervals. For more help on this, read How to Create an Effective E-Learning Knowledge Check.

Developing E-Learning Assessments

The great news is that e-learning authoring software can make it easy to incorporate assessments into online training (check out this article: An Overview of E-Learning Authoring Software). These software applications typically allow you to pick your question type, then fill in the information for the question, possible answers, and feedback given to the learner for a correct and incorrect answer. This makes the whole process of designing e-learning assessments easy, even if you aren’t a computer whiz.

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