If there’s one best and easiest way to see if employees grasp the information in an online training course, it’s to include a testing element. There are several ways that assessments can be implemented within online training to ensure that the results it reports to your learning management system (LMS) are accurate and reflect the content in the course. A successful assessment in online training is more than simply a series of multiple choice questions.
Let’s look at a sample that we created to see different ways to implement testing correctly.
Three Options For Testing
When developing our Patient Management Course we had three options for adding testing elements:
This option presents a single longer test at the end of the course that incorporates all the learning objectives. As a good practice, it’s best to ensure the test must be completed after it’s started. This sends the score to the LMS to track user performance, determine if they’ve passed the course, and successfully received a completion certificate.
A regulated final test is also very important if the training course is certified, to prove that an employee really knows the material. The downside is that the employee must remember all the training content at one time. This can be difficult for many people — especially when the training program can last days or weeks.
In our Patient Management Course, we limit the amount of times someone can take the final test to make it more serious and challenging. The upside being that it forces the employee to review the material a few times before taking the test to ensure they pass.
This option adds a shorter test at the end of each module to see if the employee has understood the content from each section. Essentially, module tests here are more reviews of the material rather than a final course test.
If the the course requires a final score, each module test can be added up and averaged, with that score being reported back to the LMS. Module tests are easier for the employee to handle as the information is divided into bite-sized chunks of learning, rather than the imposing challenge of taking all the test questions at one time.
Module tests are best suited for training material that is more difficult to absorb for your employees — especially if there are many modules of information that might be taken over days or weeks. Also, if an employee does poorly in one module but excellently in another, the score will be averaged for their final mark. Organizations often use this option when the course is over an hour in length (generally 40 screens), their users have limited time/access to review the course material (for example, if they are working in the field), or if the material is more selective and detailed. This type of testing option can also be used for certification purposes as the course will still report a final mark to the LMS.
Module testing was a consideration during the development of our Patient Management course. However, our custom elearning development team dismissed this option as the material wasn’t presented in a traditional module format.
This option interweaves the training content of the course with testing, so that the employee doesn’t really know they are taking a test, as the “questions” are part of the training. Interwoven tests are often presented as a scenario to the user, where the choices they make are the actual questions to see if they are using the training material to progress successfully through the course. Combining testing questions within the content of the course involves more development time as it means creating a simulation of a real-life environment.
Integrated testing is useful for training material where the employee is presented with information and they are taken through a scenario to see if they can understand how to apply that information to progress to a winning solution.
Examples might include:
Training users to use field equipment and then testing their ability to choose the right tools for a given job scenario; if they don’t know which tools to use in what order, the job won’t be completed and they will fail the test.
Giving users safety training information and then checking on their ability to use that knowledge when put in a scenario where a safety hazard comes up; if they don’t choose the right safety answers, they will put themselves or others at risk in the scenario and fail the test.
Presenting information in a simulated classroom environment and then moving the view to a real-life situation, like a sales cold call where the user must ask the right questions to close the deal (check our Make the Sale demo for an example of this); failing the situation means failing the test.
Making The Right Choice
In the case of our Patient Management Course we chose integrated testing as the method of assessments. It meant taking more time on the instructional design and storyboarding process. However, it produced a more highly tuned and enriching learning experience for the employee that related to the type of job they would be performing.
It allowed the progress of their answers to be tracked with a performance gauge and presented them with an ongoing score throughout the testing training simulation.
When you are looking at adding testing to your training content, it’s crucial to consider if the best way to use testing to drive your employees training experience. While it might take more work on building a test into the course, with the right developers working on your course, the training will be engaging and give you the performance results you need.