What is Assessment?
An assessment is an instrument used to measure individual skills, knowledge gain, retention, or learning program effectiveness.
Other Common Names
Other common names for assessment include:
Assessment is an attempt to determine the effectiveness of a learning initiative and has the following core properties:
- It may involve qualitative or quantitative measures.
- It is targeted to provide a snapshot of whether learning objectives have been accomplished.
Insights from What’s Your Formula? that will be on the test!
Elements that easily bond with Assessment
Using real-time audience response activities to poll your participants can help you determine their prior knowledge of a subject or it can give you insights into how much they have learned, depending on the timing of the activity. Keep in mind that polling your audience is a “soft” measure that is often done anonymously to provide an overall trend of where your participants stand, but it is often difficult to use polling data to assess the learning or skill development of individuals.
Using quiz software allows you to assess how much individuals or groups have learned, often in a fun (sometimes competitive) way. Whether you’re using an online platform such as Kahoot or you’ve created a Jeopardy-like game using PowerPoint, quizzing your participants allows you to take a snapshot of knowledge learned at a given point in your session. While knowledge checks alone may not give you the entire picture of overall program effectiveness, they do offer some data on whether participants are growing their knowledge base.
GamesQuiz games offer insights into knowledge gain. Inspiration can also be drawn from role-playing games or escape room–type activities in which individuals or small groups need to debate the merits of their decisions in order to proceed through the game, which offers greater insights into critical thinking, decision making, and teamwork.
This has and will be said many times throughout this book, but I have no qualms about repeating myself on this point. If you’re planning to assess the effectiveness of a training program, it needs to be baked into the design of the program from the beginning. What baseline data will you capture in your needs assessment to help you answer the question, “Why are we doing this training and how will we know it’s effective?” Using well-crafted learning objectives will help you design activities and assessment strategies to determine the effectiveness of your program.
Levels of Evaluation
In addition to capturing comments such as “best training ever” and “room was too cold,” post-training evaluation forms can offer participant reactions on how confident
they are as they complete your training program and set out to use new knowledge or skills in the real world. Pre- and post-testing can offer you some insights as to whether new knowledge was gained, although the asterisk with this measure is that post-tests are often conducted right after participants have learned a concept. The forgetting curve can wreak havoc on post-test results, so if you really want to assess training effectiveness in terms of knowledge gained using post-testing, you should wait a week to administer the test. Gathering information about participants post-training performance and transfer of skills onto the job can provide insight into on-the-job effectiveness if you survey participants (or their supervisors) 30 or 60 days after the program has been completed.
On the surface this may be an odd element to bond with assessment since e-learning is typically thought of as a training method or even distribution channel for dispersed groups of learners. However, e-learning can hold a natural assessment advantage over other forms of training delivery because many LMSs capture all sorts of data that can be used to assess the effectiveness of the program. The key here is building those means of assessment into the design of the course and then ensuring your LMS can capture the data you want.