13 things you should know about eLearning assessments and quizzes
Creating assessments and quizzes is a testing topic (sorry!). We’ve assembled 13 tips for question types, question banks, and question framing in this blog post. Use them to make your eLearning assessments and quizzes more effectively check knowledge—and change learner behaviors.
5 question interactions that will help you increase engagement
Multiple-choice questions are the king of eLearning question types. They’re easy to understand, easy to write, and suitable for most knowledge checks. That said, variety remains the spice of life. You can keep your learners interested in an assessment by using the full range of interactions available in your eLearning authoring tool.
Why not use one of these assets in your next assessment?
1) Dropdown lists
The basic benefit of using a dropdown list is that its footprint is a lot smaller than its content. This gives you two main scenarios where a dropdown list is useful:
- When you have a long list of potential answers
- When you don’t want your answers to obscure an image (as in the example above, via Gomo’s ‘Dropdowns on Graphic’ question asset)
2) Graphical multiple-choice questions
Find yourself using too many text-based multiple-choice questions? Reworking a question as a graphical multiple choice question can offer some variety. This question type can also be quite effective when checking learner knowledge about scenarios or specific product configurations.
3) Likert scales
Likert scales are a survey staple and can be added to harvest satisfaction or engagement with your courses or your organization more generally. It’s possible to use a Likert scale in an assessment (i.e. to have a correct answer). However, it’s best to try another asset type if your question doesn’t fit naturally into a non-arbitrary scale.
4) Open input
If you want to definitively test whether a piece of learning has been understood, a text or number input question asset is one way to go.
Depending on how your authoring platform handles this question asset, it’s generally easiest to use with single-word definitive answers that aren’t easily misspelled. Gomo’s version of this asset isn’t case sensitive and allows you to set multiple valid answers. You may still have to thoroughly test the question to ensure that all valid answers are accounted for!
Another way to use this asset type is to not require a correct answer at all. Learners can submit feedback or practice explaining their answers in free-text.
5) Drag and drop
A question type that makes your course feel more interactive, drag and drop invites users to place icons, images, or phrases into specific groups. In addition to being more engagingly tactile, this can test a more comprehensive understanding of a certain topic, rather than just a single aspect.
Find out more about interaction types:‘5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Interactive Screens’
3 key considerations for question banks
Worried that learners will memorize or cheat their way through certain assessments? Question banks allow you to create a pool of questions that is larger than the number learners are assessed on. This makes it less likely that they will encounter the same set of questions each time they’re assessed. Question banks are a powerful eLearning tool. Here are three things you should know about them.
1) Build a question bank, even if you’re not sure you need one
If you always build in a question bank, you always have the option of enabling randomization if you later realize that it would be useful. It can be quite difficult to convert unbanked quizzes into banked quizzes.
2) Don’t neglect related learning prompts
Getting learners to revisit topics they get wrong is an important part of the learning process. This understandably becomes more complex to manage when you add in randomized questions, but it’s still very much worth doing: after all, if you have enough material to write randomized questions about, there’s more material for your learner to forget!
3) Always map your questions to learning objectives
If you want to change five specific learner behaviors with your training—that’s great! But if your selection of 10 questions covers only two of them, your plan falls apart. Either weight certain essential questions so that they’re always pulled through, or build multiple question banks. This latter approach is more robust: create one bank for each of your learning objectives, and ensure that your logic allows for at least one question to be randomly selected for your assessment.
Read more on the blog:‘Improve Your Assessments With Question Banks & Randomization’
5 things to avoid when writing effective questions
Writing questions that properly test your learners is something of a fine art. It can be easy to fall into the trap of giving too many hints. Or misleading learners with overly complicated phrasing. Try to avoid all of the following when writing your questions:
1) Grammatical mismatches
“What’s the missing word”-type questions can accidentally reveal the answer through grammar. For example, answers beginning with a vowel may cause you to use ‘An’.
2) Hints in the question stem
Dropping extra hints into your introductory question can undermine the knowledge point you’re actually trying to test. Consider this example of excessive hinting:
Which of the following islands, which also shares its name with a programming language and another name for coffee, is the name of the world’s most populous island?
3) Obviously wrong answers
Unless you’re writing $500 questions for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, avoid dropping in obviously wrong answers that just fill up space. Questions are more valuable when they ask learners to apply relevant knowledge to eliminate the wrong answers as well as identify the right one.
4) Leaving room for guesswork
Some question types, such as true or false statements, leave a lot of room for guesswork. After all, if you don’t know the answer, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Your best way of counteracting this and properly testing learner understanding is to group a number of statements into a single question and score it as one. Here’s an example:
Are these statements about Earth’s Moon true or false?
- The Moon orbits the earth at a distance of 384,400 kilometers or 238,855 miles. (True)
- The Moon is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System. (False)
- Scientists have found ice-water on and under the surface of the Moon. (True)
- We always see the same side of the Moon because it does not rotate. (False)
Because we haven’t revealed how many statements are true and false, the odds of randomly selecting the true and false answers are even longer.
5) Trick questions and negatives
As we usually want to test a learner’s knowledge, not their reading skill and comprehension, don’t try to trip them up with your question phrasing or framing. This can happen unintentionally too: negatives such as “which of the following are not” and “all of the following except” can be confusing.
Searching for more design tricks and tips? Read our recent guide:‘How to Create Visually Stunning eLearning: Design Tips That Work Every Time’