How do I test my participants’ knowledge? 3 tips for creating test questions & co.

Tips & tricks Sina Burghardt · 10 months ago

Are you creating e-learning courses for knowledge transfer? Then sooner or later the questions of how to effectively assess that knowledge arises. The answer is easy: by using tests. Not that simple though, is the creation of tests, at least not for everyone. How to construct suitable test questions efficiently and what other factors should be taken into account. This blog post will guide you through the most important steps.

woman who shrugs with shoulders
No idea how to create test questions?

The creation of test questions especially challenges those trainers who are new to the area of creating trainings or whose original area of responsibility lies elsewhere. Although they definitely have specialist knowledge they want or should pass on. An example would be a product manager who wants to provide Sales and Production with new product knowledge. His requirement: a training method with test questions that examine the newly gained knowledge as objectively as possible. It is important to know which types of questions are suitable for assessing what knowledge, and how these questions can then be well prepared. Here, we present you with 3 basic steps on how to effectively create questions.

1. Align questions with learning objectives

Before actually creating the questions, you should clarify which learning objective should be assessed. Please take a look at the following questions:

For answering the test question, do participants…

  • only need to quote stored knowledge or recognize something?
    Yes? Then the learning objective is reproduction.
  • use, i.e. understand and arrange the learned independently?
    Then the learning objective is reorganization.
  • have to apply a learned basic principle on a new but similar scope of task?
    Then the learning objective is Transfer with a focus on application.
  • examine an issue according to given criteria?
    Then the learning objective is transfer with a focus on analysis.
  • find a solution for new questions and aspects and there are different approaches possible?
    Then the learning objective is critical thinking.

Once the learning objectives are defined, suitable questions and wording can be chosen, which will be further introduced in the following step.

2. Create varied questions

Generally, a test should consist of different exercises. Different types of questions offer variety to participants, this way refrain from the test becoming monotonous.

Structure of an exercise:

  • A title to every exercise can be a good idea, but is not obligatory. If you want to set a title, headings of learning steps can be used.
  • The introductory text leads the learners towards the exercise and encloses the area in question.
  • The exercise text explains the issue.
  • The question text contains the actual exercise. It is important here, that the instructions are clear. In addition, it should be clear to the learners what exactly you expect of them and, especially for essay questions, in which type and scope the exercise is to be solved.

Which question for which learning objective?

  • Reproduction (knowledge): Let your participants quote, enumerate, name, define or reproduce something. For this purpose for example short essay questions are suitable.
  • Reorganization (understanding): This is about arranging, describing, interpreting, classifying, explaining, comparing and assigning. A suitable question type would be a true/false question.
  • Transfer (application): Skills of applying, evaluating, creating, checking and converting are required here. A broad-based hotspot or a multiple choice question can be of help here.
  • Transfer (analysis): This includes analysis, selecting, linking and reviewing. Pose a single choice question (with just one correct answer) or a hotspot image with a narrow range.
  • Critical thinking (synthesis): Participants must justify, design, reason, plan or solve a problem. Here, it would be clever to pose an essay question.
  • Critical thinking (evaluation): Estimate, assess, discuss, evaluate, comment. Let participants post comments here that you and other participants can respond to.

question mark

Tip:

Write down your ideas for test questions already while creating the course. This way, you can create questions quicker and be assured that the questions are well coordinated with the learning content. Also reading specialized literature or newspapers can offer new ideas. Thus, current topics can be covered by test questions and a reference to current affairs can be drawn.

3. Evaluate – can this also be done automatically?

Most question types that are offered within the LMS allow for automatic evaluation: single and multiple choice, true or false questions, but also hotspot exercises can be automatically evaluated by predefined solutions.

It is a different situation for essay questions where a manual evaluation is indispensable. A trainer must go through and assess the submitted tasks separately and only then can get back to the participant with constructive feedback.

You might now think that exercises that can be evaluated automatically do not allow for understanding or even application and assessment tasks. But you are mistaken. The scope of tasks is crucial here: Include a variety of questions that make participants think and reflect their own knowledge. Automatic evaluation gives them a quick feedback as well. And with a little practice and experience, you will also succeed in creating an application exercise as a hotspot question.

Conclusion

With the right preparation, such as establishing the learning objectives and writing down questions during the creation of the course, good test questions are created quickly.

In addition to assessing the knowledge of the participants, tests eventually also serve as feedback for the trainer, who can draw conclusions about the structure of their training and if necessary make adjustments. Also, assessing the participants provides a reporting function to the company itself. After successful completion of the course, certificates can serve to enable employees to be qualified for specific tasks.


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