“The way in which students are assessed fundamentally affects their learning. Good assessment practice is designed to ensure that, in order to pass the module or programme, students have to demonstrate they have achieved the intended learning outcomes”
– The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education(QAA), UK
This is an interesting statement made by QAA in its “Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education”. This has relevance not just in higher education but also in corporate learning situations.
If we look at the statement closely, we infer two key points.
- Assessments need to be designed keeping in mind the intended learning outcomes.
- A learner should not successfully complete the assignment if he/she has not understood the concepts well.
Very often assessments are not integrated into the instructional design and learning design process and are included in e-Learning courses as an afterthought. This defeats the purpose of having the assessments. How can you make them effective and purposeful?
Assessments should beat the core of the learning design process. How the assessments are designed depends on,
- what the learning objectives are
- how the learning content is being approached and finally
- the learning activities that are weaved into the design process
So, what are the criteria for designing assessments?
One way of doing it is to work on assessments alongside the learning objectives. If one of the learning objectives of a product training course, for service engineers, is “to be able to identify the probable cause(s) of the problem when a customer describes it”, the assessment questions should check just that. There is no point in checking the learner’s ability to name certain parts or identify them. These may be necessary to achieve the learning outcome but their knowledge does not guarantee the achievement of the learning objective.
Therefore, Learning objective forms an important criterion for designing assessments. It helps you to measure the competency of learner in performing a task, which is more important than mere completion of a module or course. It also steers the attention of learners to the aspects that need better focus and will approach the course accordingly. So, QAA’s statement in its Code of Practice “The way in which students are assessed fundamentally affects their learning” is quite right!
What has been your experience in designing or taking assessments in eLearning courses? Would love to hear them. Please share them in the comment box below.