Secrets to Measuring & Enhancing Learning Results: Webinar

Julie ProfilePosted by Julie Delazyn

Research has shown that assessments play an important role on learning and retention — and the benefits vary before, during and after a learning experience. No matter where learning occurs, the goal remains the same: ensuring people have the knowledge, skills and abilities to perform well.

So, how can you use assessments to measure and enhance learning within your organization?

Check out our newest 30-minute webinar – and register today!

  • The Secrets to Measuring and Enhancing Learning Results
  • Date & Time: Wed, Dec 7  at 4:00 p.m. UK GMT / 11:00 a.m. US EDT

Join us as we discuss the important role assessments play within the learning process and explore the benefits of using them before, during and after learning. We’ll also give you some useful pointers and resources to take away.

Register for the webinar now. We look forward to seeing you at the session!

Find the gaps, then design the learning

Posted by Jim Farrell

Having spent my entire career (amazingly coming up on 20 years now) in the learning industry, I find it curious that I often cannot find time for my own learning.  I always have a healthy stack of items on my nightstand that I have every intention of reading, but the stack is rarely diminished.

Twitter has become my digital nightstand. Instead of weeding through articles and websites, twitter has helped me “hire” my own personal curators to show me what is new and exciting in our industry. One recommendation from one of my curators, @cammybean, was the book, Design for How People Learn, by Julie Dirksen. Now the title alone is enough to grab most professional educators, but what really got me was @cammybean saying that most of the illustrations were stick figures. I am a huge fan of stick figures in illustrating learning so I was sold.

According to Julie, before you can create a good learning experience, you have to understand the gaps: knowledge, skills, motivation, environment and/or communication. I use and/or because it is likely that there are multiple gaps that must be addressed when dealing with more than one learner. How do we find gaps? We ask questions!

In my experience, simple surveys or assessments can help uncover most types of gaps. For example, letting participants rate the knowledge level on the topics that are to be covered can give a lot of insight about the class make-up. And if you really want to check their knowledge, ask them questions about things they say they have medium understanding of while avoiding topics about which they say they have minimal knowledge. Think about it: Why would you ask questions when the participant has already told you they don’t know the answer?

Asking participants how often they perform certain skills and how important they are can give you information about how much opportunity they will have to practice those skills back at work. It will also help you gauge how motivated they are to learn them. It’s also great to ask learners is if they know why they are attending the training. This can uncover communication gaps that could hinder their success.

We all know that evaluating participants’ progress throughout the learning process is valuable, but asking questions to determine the gaps participants are bringing to learning can make or break a training experience.

Measuring Learning Results: Eight Recommendations for Assessment Designers

Joan PhaupPosted by Joan Phaup

Is it possible to build the perfect assessment design? Not likely, given the intricacies of the learning process! But a white paper available on the Questionmark Web site helps test authors respond effectively to the inevitable tradeoffs in order to create better assessments.

Measuring Learning Results, by Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research, considers findings from fundamental learning research and how they relate to assessment. The paper explores how to create assessments that measure how well learning interventions are preparing learners to retrieve information in future situations—which as Will states it is the ultimate goal of training and education.

The eight bits of wisdom that conclude the paper give plenty of food for thought for test designers. You can download the paper to find out how Will arrived at them.

1. Figure out what learning outcomes you really care about. Measure them. Prioritize the importance of the learning outcomes you are targeting. Use more of your assessment time on high-priority information.

2. Figure out what retrieval situations you are preparing your learners for. Create assessment items that mirror or simulate those retrieval situations.

3. Consider using delayed assessments a week or month (or more) after the original learning ends—in addition to end-of-learning assessments.

4. Consider using delayed assessments instead of end-of-learning assessments, but be aware that there are significant tradeoffs in using this approach.

5. Utilize authentic questions, decisions, or demonstrations of skill that require learners to retrieve information from memory in a way that is similar to how they’ll have to retrieve it in the retrieval situations for which you are preparing them. Simulation-like questions that provide realistic decisions set in real-world contexts are ideal.

6. Cover a significant portion of the most important learning points you want your learners to understand or be able to utilize. This will require you to create a list of the objectives that will be targeted by the instruction.

7. Avoid factors that will bias your assessments. Or, if you can’t avoid them, make sure you understand them, mitigate them as much as possible, and report their influence. Beware of the biasing effects of end-of-learning assessments, pretests, assessments given in the learning context, and assessment items that are focused on low-level information.

8. Follow all the general rules about how to create assessment items. For example, write clearly, use only plausible alternatives (for multiple-choice questions), pilot-test your assessment items to improve them, and utilize psychometric techniques where applicable.