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Assessment Methods

Assessment Methods
You can use assessment tools before a training event to determine learners' needs, expectations, and skills gaps. It's important to recognize the difference between needs analysis and skill gap analysis. Both are important, but show different things.

Just because a learner doesn't assess well on a skill doesn't necessarily mean that they need training on it. Needs analysis will help identify the skills needed for a particular job role or a specific project. Once needs are identified, only the skills that apply to those needs should be tested. Too many students get training on skills that they realistically won't use in their job.

During a training event, you can use practical or written exercises, quizzes, or exams to test learners' understanding and progress. These materials might be included in your courseware. You can also create them yourself.

When you create an assessment tool, you can use a traditional technique where learners choose a response from a given list. This can include such question types as: multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank activities. In this type of assessment, learners select the best answer from two or more choices. Another category is short-answer or essay questions. This type of assessment doesn't provide answers. It requires learners to respond in their own words, using their own creativity. If your content is primarily theory, this might be an appropriate choice.

If your course is skill based or hands on, then practical, real world exercises might be most appropriate. Give learners a problem to solve using the skills they've just studied.

On line assessments and simulations might also be available for your material. E-Learning can also be used in class as an assessment tool. These types of tools can give learners a more sophisticated form of interaction and m~can be tied to an existing LMS (Learning Management System) or HR system so results can be tracked and even reported.

It's helpful to use assessment techniques that include both formative and summative evaluation. The purpose of formative assessments is to provide feedback as learners progress toward a goal. This type of assessment might include quizzes on material recently covered or practicing newly acquired skills in an activity. Summative evaluations provide more of an overall picture of progress. This type of evaluation might include a final exam that covers all the material in a course.

In addition to developing and selecting assessments, knowing how to administer them is also important. Have you ever noticed that some people excel at quizzes, while others might freeze and do poorly? The same can be true of a variety of assessments. To get the clearest picture of a learner's understanding, you need multiple observations and multiple types of evaluations.

Research conducted by Dr. Ruth Clark, a respected specialist in instructional design and technical training, supports the fact that learners retain better if they practice and assess frequently rather than only at the end of a lesson or course. This is another justification for multiple observations and assessments. It also assists you, the instructor, in making course adjustments early and often. With such observations, you understand how your learners are doing. If you wait until the end of a lesson or course, it will be harder or impossible to adjust the course.

You'll also need uniform evaluation standards for all learners. This way you'll have a constant and substantiated comparison across learners based on everyone's performance. If the evaluations are not uniform it makes diagnosing problems correctly more difficult.
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