Testing can be an integral tool for checking knowledge and driving engagement in e-Learning. There are many good reasons for including quizzes in your staff training program.
- Quizzes allow you to keep track of your employees’ progress and let you see what’s been learned and what hasn’t.
- Creating a quiz, as well as taking one, doesn’t take too much time. That’s perfect because you have to be fast if you want your training to be effective. Did you know that people forget an average of 70% of what they’ve learned within 24 hours?
- Quizzes enable learners to retain new information in long term memory.
- Testing drives learners’ understanding, motivation and engagement. Achievements on quizzes create deeper engagement with your content.
- Quizzes also produce data that can be used to help identify gaps in your training, and help you improve your content.
- You don’t need a classroom environment for testing. Learners can take quizzes wherever they are, on their own schedule.
Note: Many organizations see early Saturday AM spikes in the number of learners on the system.
However, when it comes to authoring a quiz, training professionals and new content creators alike need answers to these questions:
- how many assignments;
- what types of questions;
- what passing score and time limit;
- whether to use branching scenarios;
- and plenty of other “how” and “why” questions.
In this article, Michael Sheyahshe, an e-Learning expert with over 20 years of experience developing learning strategies and content, will explain in detail how to make an online quiz in iSpring Suite to both engage your employees and check what they’ve learned.
- Step 1. Define the quiz type
- Step 2. Choose the types of quiz questions
- Step 3. Consider question wording
- Step 4. Work out answer options
- Step 5. Decide on quiz properties
- Step 6. Add voice over and design questions
Step 1. Define the quiz type
Working on a quiz is much like creating a course, but a quiz may require a modified development cycle or process. However, the starting point is the same — define specific goals or objectives.
What do you want to achieve by creating a quiz? The answer to this question will help you define the type of assignment.
Quizzes can typically be divided into two main categories, according to purpose:
- Reinforcement Quizzes help consolidate and force a review of the training material. They are usually included at regular intervals (end of module or chapter) for practice and data collection. There are usually no specific requirements: no time limits, no penalties for wrong answers. The learner has several attempts to give a correct answer; after each error there’s an explanation why the answer is incorrect.
- Assessment Quizzes help check employees’ knowledge. These typically have set time limits and one attempt to answer, no explanation for errors. The quiz shows how useful the course or the whole training program was for your employees — what, in fact, they have learned from it.
Step 2. Choose the types of quiz questions
When creating quizzes in iSpring Suite, there are 11 types of graded questions used by trainers and educators.
- True/False — The learner should determine if the statement is true or false. This is the simplest question type.
- Multiple Choice — The learner must choose a single correct answer from several alternatives.
- Multiple Response — The user must select all the correct answers from the list. Questions of this type are more difficult than multiple choice, because the learner doesn’t know how many answers to choose.
- Short Answer — Here, there’s no choice to select; however, the learner must type an answer in the text field. Requires a good understanding of the subject material to get it right, and ‘getting it right’ is subjective.
- Sequence — The user is required to arrange the items in the correct order. You can use this type of question if you need to establish a timeline or arrange several things in ascending/descending order.
- Numeric — The learner must enter the correct number in the text field, so it’s impossible to guess the right answer, unlike in multiple choice or T & F questions.
- Select from List — The user must select the correct answer from each dropdown list.
- Drag the Words — The learner is required to drag and drop words from the word bank into the blanks in the given text.
- Fill in the Blanks — The user must fill in the blanks in the text. You can use this type of question if you need to check, for example, how well an employee knows a certain rule or simple procedure.
- Matching — The learner must match pairs of words, phrases or images. You can add extra matches to make the task harder.
The typical question contains 4 to 10 pairs. This type of question can be used to match terms and definitions, texts and images, authors and quotes, dates and events, etc.
- Hotspot — The user must click on one or more designated areas on the image. Using this type of question in a creative way, a quiz developer can make an interesting practical task. For example:
For a quiz to be fair and accurate, it should be consistent with a “30/40/30” rule, such as in the example below.
Step 3. Consider question wording
The efficacy of a quiz greatly depends on how well the questions are formulated. It’s easy to forget that quiz takers have only the information we provide them. If they don’t understand the questions, they will have little choice but to begin answering them at random, rather than relying on their knowledge. This will ruin your chances of getting an accurate assessment. Plus, learners may disengage from content that tests them on things that have not been covered. That’s why it’s important to carefully consider the wording of each question..
Here are some tips:
- Don’t overcomplicate. Questions should be simple and clear. Try not to write long complex sentences. The number of words in a sentence shouldn’t be more than 20.
- Try to avoid using negatives in your questions and answers. For example: “Which of the following is NOT a result of hydrogen bonds?” Such questions are often confusing. However, judicious use of this technique can keep your learners on their toes. When you do use it, consider writing the negative particle in capital letters or bolded text so the learner doesn’t miss it.
- Don’t use imprecise descriptors like “approximately”, “any”, “at least”, etc. “What is the approximate value of the constant π?” “Um, about three?” Asking inaccurate questions increases the chances of getting inaccurate answers — smartly written questions will (hopefully) elicit smartly written answers. For example, “Express the constant π to the nearest 3 significant figures.” ”3.14.”
- Begin open-ended questions with the words “what”, “how much”, “when”, “how”, and “why”.
- Avoid unnecessary hints where the learner can deduce the correct answer from the context. This may show a certain agility of mind which is certainly good, but it doesn’t help you in assessing knowledge of the specific topic.
Step 4. Work out answer options
At this stage, you need to author good distractors for each question. A distractor is a wrong answer meant to confuse a learner.
Here are some tips:
- Make all response options clear and concise. There’s no reason to have multi-paragraph answers.
- Keep answers and distractors the same structure and length. Any inconsistencies in grammar and language choice can provide unwanted clues to the correct answer.
- Don’t constantly rely on answer options like “none of the above” and “all of the above”, especially on multiple choice questions.
- Avoid options where users’ answers can be counted “wrong” by mistyping or misspelling the answer: “Chicago” and “chicago”, “Carroll” and “carroll”. After all, if the employee types the right word but uses the wrong case, the final score will be biased if the quiz is case-sensitive.
- Ensure your answers are absolutely correct and distractors definitely wrong. Any inaccuracy with either the subject or the phrasing of the response options will confuse your learners.
Step 5. Decide on quiz properties
Quiz properties depend on the goal: for instance, is the goal to train up skills and encourage, or ruthlessly assess knowledge?.
When creating a quiz, a training professional usually faces a problem — what minimum passing score to set. There’s no universal recipe. Again, keep the main goal in mind and use it as your guide.
For example, let’s say you’re building a reinforcement quiz for salespeople on time management skills. The goal is to consolidate the training material and help employees remember what they may have forgotten. Here, the passing score can be about 70-80%.
If you’re providing certification for medical professionals, let’s say, on the anatomy of the nervous system, then you can set a full 100 percentage points as a passing grade. In this case, the scoring is more stringent, given the importance of human life and/or medical treatment.
iSpring Suite allows you to assign points for correct answers and penalties for false replies:
Randomly distribute questions
A good standard quiz length is about 25-30 questions, but the entire reserve should be 3-4 times larger. For example, you should use a pool of 75-120 questions in a quiz where employees randomly receive only 25-30 of them. As a result, each user has different quiz content. This is an easy way to limit learners’ ability to share answers with each other.
To learn how to randomize questions in an iSpring Suite quiz, see this short video tutorial:
To help prevent cheating, you can also set a time limit for taking a quiz. Based on the complexity of the questions, you can give them 10-30 minutes to finish.
If an employee has put zero effort into studying the subject, even cheat sheets won’t help them to pass a test within the deadline.
In iSpring Suite, you can set time limits for the entire quiz or particular questions:
However, when considering time limits, note that to be WCAG 2.0 accessibility compliant, quizzes must not be timed.
Number of attempts
If you want to conduct a comprehensive “diagnostic” of your employees’ knowledge, set a quiz to “one attempt”. Then it will be more difficult to guess the correct answer. You can set the number of attempts in two clicks:
Branching can be a great way to design a quiz for reinforcement and encouragement. This will help your employees fill knowledge gaps and learn the material better. Here’s how it works: when users make a mistake, they move to an info slide. If the answer is correct, they go right to the next question.
Remember tests at school or college? After checking the tests, the teacher handed out the papers with the wrong answers crossed out. Did you ever want to ask: “Why is this one wrong?”
The same thing happens in e-Learning but, of course, there’s no teacher standing there to answer questions. And yet, an online quiz can give feedback on each incorrect answer. That helps learners easily understand why their answers may have been wrong, and which option is correct. To learn how to set up branching and feedback in iSpring Suite, watch this tutorial:
Step 6. Add voice over and design questions
Taking a quiz can be stressful. Many would say that it’s the most unpleasant part of training. To help alleviate this, work on the design of the quiz and create interesting interactive tasks.
With the help of iSpring Suite, you can customize each question slide: set the font, change the layout, and choose a color scheme for the question:
For each question in the quiz, you can import an audio file or record audio directly in iSpring Suite, and then edit it using the built-in editor:
Using these options, you can make interesting interactive assessments that engage your employees in fun and playful learning.
When to run quizzes
- After each learning course. There should be a final test at the end of each course. Otherwise, how will you measure your employees’ training results?
- After each training program that includes a set of learning courses on a specific topic. This is a kind of post-training. The outcomes can show how well employees can turn knowledge into action.
- For certification. Quizzes show employees’ retained knowledge. For this purpose, you can reuse a final test from a learning course or create a new one.
- Before training. The results will paint a clear picture of what learners already know. You can use this data to set a direction for a course or a whole training program. (Note: With iSpring Learn LMS, you can create individual learning paths for employees with different skill levels.)
To learn how to assess quiz results and which metrics to use, read the article Understanding LMS Reports: 12 Things to Look at in Your eLearning Statistics.
About the expert
Michael Sheyahshe is an Artist, Author, Developer, and Technologist at aNm. He has over 2 decades of experience in the design and development of interactive media, tools, simulations, and games for a global market, utilizing various e-Learning methodologies.
Specialties: Serious games, 3d modeling, 2d, design, layout, illustration, simulation, instructional design, augmented, virtual and mixed reality.