Lesson 5. Inquiring Minds: Creating Enhanced Learner Assessments
Michael Sheyahshe, an artist, author, developer, and technologist at alterNative Media, presents a whole series of 10 lessons on making e-Learning cool: “How To Create Great Online e-Learning Course From A To Z.”
If you’re new to this series, it’s better to start from the first lesson.
In this lesson, we’re going to talk about creating enhanced learner assessments and quizzes. We’ll cover some theoretical information about different types of quizzes. We’ll also share some pro tips and some good basics of authoring quizzes. Plus, you’ll learn how to actually create knowledge checks with iSpring and some ways to make them even better.
Watch the recording or skip to the article if you prefer reading.
2b or not 2b?
Are knowledge checks necessary? In some cases, depending on the content, maybe they aren’t. In e-Learning, what we’re really trying to do is like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. In the same way, we’re constantly throwing information (which is hopefully well-managed and concise) at our learners while trying to communicate our ideas. In many cases, the purpose of knowledge checks is to support and augment learning, so we need something to stick in our learners’ heads.
At the same time, these quizzes shouldn’t be regarded by the learners as some kind of punishment. That goes back to the idea of being an advocate for your learners, and the concept that you yourself would be interested in the material.
There’s a great article by Art Kohn that talks about the whys and whens of assessment. It contains some really good information about how the mind works and the different ways we receive and process information. In this article, we present a three-stage model.
In the flowchart above, there’s a formula in the top right corner about a capacity of seven plus or minus two. That means doing things seven times (more or less) helps learners retain the information.
We receive incoming information as environmental stimuli into our minds. These stimuli can be received from our various senses like vision, hearing or touch. There’s usually some information that we don’t retain, but some of it we process, and it goes into short-term memory.
In our short-term memory, we can rehearse that information. When we rehearse it, we process it into our long-term memory, and if there’s something that isn’t processed, it’ll be lost. So there’s a lot of opportunities both to lose and retain different memories.
Taking this into consideration, we can conclude that testing immediately helps to develop our short-term memory for various learning. Coming back later may help us see what has been processed beyond the short-term and pass the information to the long-term memory. That’s why assessment is helpful for long-term learning success.
Dos and Don’ts of Quiz Authoring
There’s a fantastic article by the industry leader Patti Shank called Avoiding Assessment Mistakes That Compromise Competence and Quality, which talks about some of the dos and don’ts from her experience, and how to avoid assessment mistakes.
Patti Shank points out some serious mistakes in assessments:
- Given only cursory attention.
- Not integrated properly in the entire process (sometimes they’re not given the proper amount of time).
- Wrong type of question.
- Not relevant enough (meaning the question is sort of right, but it doesn’t drill down into the information you want to share with your learners).
- Poorly written (bad semantics or grammar mistakes)
There’s another tip from industry leader Sam Rogers. In his article, Sam Rogers goes into the dos and don’ts, and what you should consider when creating a multiple-choice question. The main idea is to make sure that you let your questions focus, center upon, and build from your learning objectives.
Early in the course, we talked about defining what the content is, who your learners are, and what you want to disseminate to your learners. Now, make sure your quiz questions also support that information, so take your time when formulating the questions and develop them correctly.
Sam Rogers recommends that you develop your questions before the rest of your learning. Many of us make the common mistake of developing them after or concurrently with other e-Learning.
It’s very important to develop the questions as robustly as you do the entire development process.
Getting Started with iSpring QuizMaker
Enough of the theoretical stuff; let’s go ahead and start creating some quizzes with iSpring. Let’s look at some of the most common question types:
- multiple choice
- fill in the blank
We’re going to create some of these questions in order to show you how easy it is to create quizzes.
Open the iSpring QuizMaker tab. When we create quizzes, this is the initial menu that comes up. We can choose graded quiz or a survey. Let’s focus on graded quizzes, as that’s what most of us deal with.
When you create a quiz, you’re given a blank canvas; a starting place where you have an intro slide, a place to add questions, and then a results slide. This can all be adjusted and edited.
Let’s start with a multiple choice question. Click on Graded Question and choose Multiple Choice. Write down your question; for instance, “What is your favorite color?” Then add the answers and the distractors, and choose which one is correct.
You can preview this particular question to get an idea of what it’ll look like in the final product.
Now, let’s create a graded multiple response question. Click on Graded Question and choose Multiple Response. Write down your question — for instance, “Which of the following are mobile devices?” — and tell the system which is the right one. Just for this particular example, we’ll say that the correct answer is a tablet and smartphone.
Next, we’ll do an open-ended question. To create it, choose a Type In question from the graded questions list.
Matching is also a fun (and useful) question type.
To create a definition question, you can use a Word Bank. Here, your learners need to pick the right words by dragging and dropping them to the appropriate places.
These are only the and most common question types. Naturally, there’s a whole lot more options to choose from in iSpring, including a hotspot (which is where you insert an image and specify certain areas to click on) and sequences (where you need to drag words into the proper order).
Now let’s go ahead and talk about some enhancements you can use with iSpring to make your quizzes even more fun and interactive.
Math and physics
If you’re making math or physics questions, there’s a special editor built into iSpring, so you can put formulas right in. Gone are the days of inserting special ASCII characters or ALT text: the internal editor contains all the symbols you need.
Interactive feedback and branching
Branching creates a non-linear scenario in your quiz which leads to the next question depending on the learner’s answer. For example, they might get it wrong and need some more information, or maybe you want to give them specific feedback if they got some of it right. You can do this in a couple of different ways.
- The first one is using the iSpring Presentation Explorer. For instance, you can control where the learners will go before and after the quiz. That’s useful when you want learners to drill down into additional information, or add some refreshers for people who are falling behind.
- You can also provide feedback inside the quiz itself. Depending on whether someone gives a right or wrong answer, they can go to the next question by default, or you can forward them to a specific place in your quiz.
Audio & Video
You might not want to add audio and video to every single slide; the main point is to capture the learners’ attention, and give them access to different channels of information, rather than just staring at question after question. So, enhancing your quizzes with audio and video is a good idea. You can add it to the questions themselves, to the answers, in the feedback, or you can incorporate it into a branching scenario with info slides.
With the Slide View mode, you can fine-tune the look and feel of the quiz, just like designing slides in PowerPoint; just click on the Slide View tab. There, you’ll have see questions as a list of slides on the left. You can enhance the look of the quiz and make it match the look of your overall course by applying a Theme.
In the Slide View, you can also change the layout of a question. Those of you that are familiar with PowerPoint obviously know that you can use the layout to add various built-in functionality to your slides. And just like in PowerPoint, you can adjust every single thing in the layout manually.
You can add images, video, audio, and formulas to the slides, or you can add some additional information that’s available to your users right on the screen. It’s a really great way to add a nice-looking quiz to your course.
And again, no matter what kind of enhancements you use — whether it’s images, audio, or video — make sure that they supplement the questions and the entire learning process itself.
Sharing Is Caring
Last, but not least, it’s important to be able to share source files with other course authors. Even if you author all the quiz questions yourself, we really recommend that you send your questions to peers, colleagues, or someone else to quality test the product. That way you’ll make sure you have concise and well-written questions that make sense and are error-free.
There’s a great method for sharing and collaborating on quizzes, and that’s Importing and Exporting quiz questions. Go to the iSpring QuizMaker Main Menu on the left and click Import Questions, or click the Import Questions button on the main toolbar.
With this option, you can import an Excel spreadsheet which contains an editable pool of questions. Just download the MS Excel template, from the iSpring website. This lets you start collaborating right away, because most people are familiar with Excel spreadsheets.
You can also email the quiz to someone so they can view it as a learner.
This is a great way to get feedback, either from the learners themselves, or from a group of test subjects, to ensure that you’re creating questions that perfectly supplement your learning content.
The next lesson is going to be about creating immersive content and branching scenarios. Stay tuned!
Did you like this lesson, or would you like to provide us with some feedback? Please tell us in the comments below; we’ll be happy to incorporate it in our future endeavors!
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