How to use Exams for Assessing eLearning Performance Eoghan Quigley Published on September 27, 2016 facebook linkedin twitter mail Assessment is one of the most crucial phases of delivering eLearning. Effective eLearning assessment is essential for everything from delivering formal compliance requirements to deciding how courses need to be improved. In this article, I show how exams can be used to successfully assess eLearning performance. Objectives Depending on your objectives, assessing learner progress can be the most critical phase of delivering training programs. If you're working to meet internal or external compliance requirements, you'll need to formally track evaluation and assessment. Or you may be more interested in using eLearning assessment to measure course effectiveness for your own improvement purposes. In both cases, exams and certification can be very useful for motivating learners and assessing what they've retained after completing your course. In this article, I list some quick and easy ways to use exams to deliver successful learning outcomes. One important consideration before we begin is whether or not to use packaged content or not. You can create examinations directly within most LMSs, using the tools within their interface. However, you can also create assessment within courses created using a 3rd party authoring tool. These tools create packaged content that can be uploaded to any SCORM or Tin Can (xapi) compliant LMS. For more information on SCORM or xAPI check out the technical help section of our blog. How To Use Exams For eLearning Assessment Exams can be a highly effective tool for testing learner knowledge. Trainers use exams to gauge learner understanding of course content and to reinforce key takeaways. The type of exam an admin creates usually depends on what they want to assess and their reasons for assessment. If you're interested in using exams to assess eLearning, consider: Creating question pools Using question pools is the most efficient way to manage content for multiple ongoing exams. An LMS should make it easy to group and store questions that relate to a specific course or subject, like "Health and Safety Basics" or "Introduction to Energy Efficiency", for example. Using pools is a simple way to manage all questions that relate to a course together and edit the content of each exam as you need. Once you've created a pool, questions can be reused in whatever combination you like, for whichever courses you plan to assess. Using multiple pools on the same the course gives you some interesting options. It allows you to set up varying permutations for each course. You can have 10 mandatory questions from one pool and a random selection of 5 from another pool for example. Selecting question types To manage eLearning assessment well, an LMS should support a wide range of question types that can be added to a pool. Many LMSs allow you to choose from around eight question types, the most common of which are: True/false, pick one, multiple correct answer, image based, video based, list matching, sequencing, and fill in the blank. Most admins combine a number of the following in each exam: Pick one. This question type directs learners to select one correct option from a list of options that can be labelled A, B, C, D. You can offer as many options as you like but only one will be marked correct. Multiple correct answer. This option allows a question to have more than one correct answer with learners directed to select all options that apply. Image question. This type allows you to upload an image and ask a question that relates to it, for example: "Name the area highlighted on the map." You can add as many potential answers as you need and learners will be directed to pick one or more correct answers. Video question. This type allows you to embed a video which the learner is asked to watch first and then answer a question based on what was shown in the video, e.g. “How many safety violations did you spot in the video clip?” Order list. With this type of question, learners are asked to position related options in the correct order, for example: "Arrange the following cities in order starting with the most populated and ending with the least populated?". Learners drag and drop the options around until they're ready to submit the answer. Match list. This question type allows you to create two lists of items, which the learner will be asked to pair, for example: “Match the city to the country”. Fill in the blank. If you choose to create this question type you will include one or more blank spaces or placeholders. When you add a placeholder, a text box appears that allows you to type in the correct answer or a set of options the learner will be asked to choose from. When you create a question it is usually stored in a pool or bank of questions which can be labelled by topic or question type. Exam Rules After you've created a question pool, you can tailor each exam with a wide range of options, including: Exclude questions from an exam. When you link a pool to an exam, you can define a specific number of questions that will be selected at random. Any question from the pool may then be included in the exam. You can also specify particular questions that you want to include or exclude. That flexibility gives you full control over the content of an exam and the extent of randomization involved. That will be useful if you need to ensure that learners receive a different set of questions when re-attempting an exam. Use knowledge check. If you flag an exam as a knowledge check, it won't count towards a learner's overall pass or fail grade for a course. You can use knowledge check assessments during a course to help learners test their understanding of content without being penalized. Submit options. Many LMSes offer multiple options that allow you to control what happens when a learner submits an exam. You can decide to tell a learner that they've passed or failed, show them correct answers, or display feedback on answers. Be careful when deciding to display correct answers or feedback on exams where learners are allowed multiple attempts. Some will make a note of the answers and make sure they get 100% on the next attempt. Set a time limit. You can also specify the length of time learners are allocated to complete an exam. You can then choose to display a countdown warning after a set length of time. The exam will be auto-submitted once the countdown clock hits zero.