If you offer eLearning as part of your course offering, it’s crucial that you get the course content right to give your students the best experience possible. As your students will be working through most or all of the course content by themselves, you want to make sure everything is as easy to use and as clear as possible.
This covers assessments as well as actual course content, as you want to make sure your students can understand what is expected of them and hopefully achieve a passing result. eLearning assessment can be challenging as there will no instructor present when the assessments are completed, but we've got some tips on how to craft the perfect assessments for your online training courses!
1. Include Mini Assessments to Test Student Knowledge
Rather than having just one big assessment at the end of your course, it’s a good idea to pepper mini-assessments throughout the course modules. This gives your students the chance to check their understanding of the course material as they go along, and make sure they’re on the right track for the final assessment, rather than just diving in blind when they get to the end of the course.
This will also help them with their course revision as it highlights the critical areas of the course content they need to know.
Using mini-assessments throughout the course is an excellent way to check for understanding when there is no instructor present. If the students were taking this class in a typical classroom-based session, they would have lots of chances to discuss points with fellow students and the instructor to make sure they were on the right path. As most of this interaction will be missing with eLearning, it’s important you provide your students with the necessary tools to be as prepared for an assessment as they would be if they were sitting it in a classroom setting.
2. Mix up Your Assessment Types
You may feel limited by the types of questions and problems you can set in an online assessment as they typically need to be something that a student can answer easily and will be marked automatically by your learning management system, without having to get a tutor involved in the process.
The truth is you’re only limited by your content authoring system regarding what you can create, so try and include as many types of questions as you feel is necessary for each assessment.
Not only will this give your students the chance to approach different questions from different angles, but it also means that they won’t get bored answering the same sort of questions over and over again. Why only use multiple choice questions for the whole assessment when you could mix it up a bit?
Here are some different question types which you may want to include where appropriate in your eLearning assessments:
- True or false questions.
- Yes or no questions.
- Multiple choice questions.
- Multiple correct answer questions, where students can pick as many correct answers as apply instead of being limited to just one option.
- Fill in the blanks where you give students some options to choose from to complete a sentence or paragraph.
- Match corresponding questions to their answers. This could mean you provide them with a list of five questions and five answers, all of which will pair up.
- Arrange a list of items in the correct order, such as the steps in a particular process or the chronological order of specific events in history.
- Getting students to answer specific questions based on a photo or a video which you embed in the eLearning content.
- Drag and drop questions where students can match one or multiple correct answers with a particular question.
3. Map Out Assessment Journey for Students
A big part of the assessment process for your students is just knowing what’s coming, so make sure you map out the exact assessment journey you expect them to take when they start the course.
Make sure you tell them what the final assessment will be, and include details such as:
- What form it will take.
- An example of the types of questions that will be included.
- How long the assessment should take to complete.
- What content they need to complete before they attempt the assessment.
- How quickly they will receive feedback and their final grade.
- If they will have the ability to re-sit the assessment and how many attempts they will get to pass.
You should also map out any mini-assessments that you included throughout the course content, so students are aware when there will be breaks in the material and points for them to check their knowledge.
4. Provide Context for Incorrect Answers
Typically with eLearning assessments, students can sit them multiple times until they receive a passing grade. Also, because students can sit the assessments on their computers, it is impossible to maintain the exam conditions that are possible with classroom-based sessions. This is why not all courses and their assessments will work with eLearning.
As eLearning assessments are typically more of an ‘open book’ exam, there is no point in not providing students with feedback on their assessment answers which will hopefully guide them to finding the correct answer in the future, rather than just getting frustrated and ending up going for a ‘guess the answers’ approach.
When a student completes an assessment, tell them which answers they got wrong so they can read back over the question and try and see where they went wrong. This will also allow them to identify the sections of the course that they are quite knowledgeable on, so they can focus on the ones they are struggling on in future revision sessions, rather than trying to revise the whole course every time they re-sit an assessment.
When a student gets a question wrong, you can also direct them to the section of the course content that particular question comes from. You don’t have to be super detailed, but leading them to a specific module will give them a bit of direction for further revision.
There is no point in making it extra difficult for your students to find the answers they need and complete the assessment, as you want them to do well in your training and come away with a passing grade. Guide them to the correct answers when they are struggling so they know what to focus on and don’t get frustrated.
5. Use Assessment Results to Rework Assessments
The great thing about eLearning content is you don’t have to keep it the same all the time, as it’s straightforward to go into your LMS and change your eLearning content whenever you need to edit it or update it. Unlike paper-based assessments that would be quite time intensive and costly to update and reprint, eLearning assessment content can be updated in seconds.
When it comes to eLearning assessments, you can use the results of past students to judge how well your assessments are working. Is there one question your students keep getting stuck on? Perhaps it’s not phrased entirely clearly, or it could be split up into a couple of different questions to allow your students to show the full extent of their knowledge. Use the information you gain from past assessment results to adjust your assessment whenever you need to to make sure you are giving your students the best chance possible of passing.
6. Make Sure you Challenge Students
As we said above, it can be hard striking the perfect balance with eLearning assessments. Students will be able to access their notes on the course material and other learning aids, as you can’t ensure exam conditions when they are completing the assessment on their own time.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the assessment a challenge. It can be difficult with things like multiple choice questions to make them challenging, but just make sure you don’t include things like obviously wrong answers, as this will mean the students are much more likely to be able to guess the correct answer based on process of elimination rather than applying their knowledge to know the right answer.
Give your students the chance to use their knowledge and show off what they know, rather than making the assessment a formality at the end of the training process.
7. Test What You Teach
This may seem like an obvious point, but make sure you are testing your students on the content you have taught them. It’s essential that you work through the course when you’re writing the assessment, ensuring that each question directly relates to something they have been taught in the course.
If you don’t work through the content when you’re making up the assessment, you may end up asking questions which are related to the course content but aren’t covered in that particular training course. Expecting your students to be able to answer these types of questions isn’t entirely fair, as you should be testing what they have learned in the training course, so make sure everything connects correctly.
8. Test Test Test!
Before you set your assessment into the wild, it’s vital that you get other people to test it. This will allow you to see if it makes sense, if it’s easy to follow, if all the questions read correctly and make it clear what is expected from the students, if there are any mistakes, and if all the questions work correctly in your LMS.
All of these things are important to test before you allow your students to sit the assessment as you want to make the experience as stress-free as possible for your students. This will give you the chance to make any changes you need to make before it goes live, so you don’t have to make any rushed changes once students have started sitting the assessment.
9. Make Sure Your Instructions are Clear
This can be part of your testing process as well, but make sure you take the time to read the instructions for your assessments, as well as any instructions the LMS will display on how to answer particular questions.
Do the instructions make it clear how you need to answer this question? If you have lots of different question types such as multiple choice and drag and drop, make sure the instructions always make it clear how to answer each question, so your students don’t get confused. Don’t assume anything is too obvious - make sure you take the time to explain everything!
10. Use a Pool of Questions
The last thing you might want to do to create the best eLearning assessments out there is to create a pool of questions rather than use the same questions for every assessment. This means if a student has to retake an assessment they may be presented with a mix of different questions rather than all the same questions again, meaning you are testing their knowledge of the course rather than it becoming a memory exercise.
You may want to create lots of questions on the same section of the course, and then let your LMS pick from a pool of these questions which one it will display each time. This means every time a student takes the assessment they will get a mix of different questions but will be still tested on everything they have learned over the course of their training.