How do you know if your e-learning course is making an impact? Assessments—think tests and quizzes—can be a valuable data source. But if you’re new to e-learning, you might wonder what makes a good assessment and how do you measure what’s actually important?
Not to worry! In this article, we’ll cover the most common questions people have about what makes an effective e-learning quiz.
1. What are e-learning assessments?
Simply put, e-learning assessments are a digital way to check what someone knows. Course authors typically use them to evaluate how well learners understand the content. And learners can use them to gauge their knowledge and progress too.
Unlike paper tests, e-learning assessments can:
- be completed whenever and wherever your learners want
- include in-the-moment feedback
- grade most learner responses automatically
And some e-learning authoring apps even include the option to randomize test questions, so each learner gets a different assessment!
2. Do I always need to include an assessment?
You’re probably used to classes and courses ending with a test. But they aren’t always necessary—and knowing when to leave them out can be a welcome timesaver for you and your learners.
Assessments can be helpful when the goal of your training is to change learner behavior—they’re one way to determine whether that shift has happened. They also may be required for regulatory or certification purposes. But if your e-learning simply focuses on sharing information, a quiz might not be the best use of people’s time. The same applies if you know your learners are being assessed elsewhere, like with an on-the-job exam.
The good news is that you can still track course completion in your learning management system (LMS) even if you don’t include an assessment. That’s because most e-learning development tools now give you additional options for marking a course as complete, such as viewing a certain number of slides or setting off a custom completion trigger in the course.
3. When should you assess learners?
If an assessment makes sense for your course, the next question is: When do you include it? That’s right—there are multiple points where you can check your learners’ knowledge. Here are some common options and why you’d use them:
- Before the course: Pre-tests can save training time by letting learners test out of material they already know. They’re also a good way to get them invested in the material they do have to take by pointing out current knowledge gaps. From your perspective, pre-tests can check what learners know coming into the course, which helps you determine whether future iterations should be more advanced or more basic.
- During the course: Assessments spread out over multiple points—such as at the end of lessons—can help learners check their understanding as they go.
- Right after the course: The typical test, this kind of assessment evaluates what learners understand by the end of the training.
- After some time has passed: It’s normal for some of your content to be forgotten over time. Follow-up assessments can gauge how well learners retain information long-term as well as what parts of it stick with them longest.
Including assessments at multiple points can also give you valuable insights. For example, one way to measure the actual impact of your course is to test learners at the beginning and end of it. As long as there aren’t any other variables at play at the same time (like other training or on-the-job coaching), you can credit your course for any improvements you see on post-test scores.
What’s more, if assessment scores aren’t where you’d like, you can use pre- and post-test results to fine-tune your response. For example, they can reveal whether the problem is the overall course or just smaller sections of it. And they can highlight if learners are coming into the training with a larger knowledge gap than you expected.
Want to know even more about this topic? Check out the article How to Quiz Your Learners at the Right Time.
4. What kinds of questions can I include in my e-learning assessments?
There are lots of different kinds of assessment questions— and no one “perfect” type that works for every kind of fact or skill. Instead, you want to match the strengths of a particular question type to the knowledge you’re trying to assess.
But don’t worry if you’re in a time crunch—doing this well takes less work than you might think. Building these different question types takes almost no time at all, thanks to the features of e-learning development apps. And deciding which type to choose is easy with the help of the table below. It outlines the strengths of the most common kinds of e-learning questions, making picking the right ones a breeze.
The classic test question! True/false questions are a fast way to check learner knowledge if you have facts with a clear and definitive answer. There’s a 50% chance of guessing the correct response, though, so don’t rely heavily on them for comprehensive assessments.
Think of these two question types as siblings. Both present learners with several answers to choose from—as text or sometimes even multimedia. But multiple choice questions have one correct answer and multiple response questions have several, allowing for more complexity.
These types of questions work well when there are several plausible options and you want learners to do a bit of critical thinking around which choice is correct.
Often displayed as two lists, this question type asks learners to match an item from the first group to the second. The options can be text, images, or even a mix. Matching questions are helpful when you want to check how well people understand the relationships between specific terms, objects, or facts.
Drag and Drop
These questions let learners sort, rank, or group items by dragging them to specific areas of the screen. They’re useful for assessing how well your audience understands steps, timelines, and categories.
Fill in the Blank
Rather than choosing from a selection of on-screen responses, this kind of question asks learners to type their answer—making them useful for assessing if people can recall information from memory.
Because learners can type anything in the answer field, be sure to also include synonyms and alternate terms as correct answers to avoid learner frustration.
This question type asks learners to demonstrate steps or actions in a simulated environment. It works exceptionally well for assessing software skills. And you can also build hardware simulations in the more robust e-learning development apps on the market.
Technically a subset of the above question types, scenarios allow you to present a story or situation and then ask learners to respond to questions about it. This option is fantastic for testing people’s critical thinking skills and gauging how well they can apply what they’ve learned in the real world.
Keep in mind that those are just the most common e-learning question types. So continue exploring what other kinds of assessments are out there and what additional options your e-learning authoring apps offer. And remember that you’re not stuck using just one question type throughout the whole test. You can always mix and match your options to best fit the content!
5. How do I design effective assessment questions?
Have you ever taken a frustrating test? Maybe it had trick questions that felt unfair, focused on unimportant minor details, or asked painfully easy questions. If any of that sounds familiar, then you know how aggravating those assessments can be for learners. Not only that, but they’re often poor indicators of whether people learned something meaningful from your course.
So how do you write questions that give you a clear picture of how effective your course is and don’t annoy your learners? Try these tips:
- Closely tie questions to your learning objectives: That way, you only assess the parts of your course that matter most.
- Don’t make the correct answer obvious: If the incorrect options are substantially shorter or longer than the correct ones or over-the-top terrible, learners can often simply guess which answer is right.
- Avoid trick questions: Gotcha questions are more likely to make learners resentful than accurately assess their knowledge.
- Align questions and activities to real-world situations when possible: This helps uncover if learners can move beyond memorization and apply their new knowledge in work situations.
There you have it! Crafting useful e-learning assessments isn’t hard, so long as you’re strategic about when you include a quiz, where you place it, and what question types you use. Combine that with a few simple writing tips and you’re all set. You’ll feel confident that your assessment measures the things that matter—and your learners will feel like it’s a fair measure of their knowledge.