It's about the time of year that we used to get all worked up about grades and cramming for finals. But if you thought taking tests was hard — how about writing them? We know that quizzes play an important role in workplace training, helping people clarify, pull out, and retain important bits of information, and of course assessing their grasp of the material, as well.
But for the most part, training quizzes tend to suck. A five-question, true/false quiz at the end of sexual harassment training? Not real through-provoking stuff, usually. But it doesn't have to be that way. Quizzes can be a great chance to hammer home important lessons, and can stimulate critical thinking … if done well. Done poorly, they're either boring and a waste of time, or they make people want to stab you with their No. 2 pencil.
So here's some tips on ways to write, and present, better quizzes. Pencils down!
Connie Malamed gives us her insightful take on ways to stay away from yes/no, true/false questions. They don't provoke thought — think about it, how often is the answer to a tough question ever as black-and-white as yes or no? Use real-world examples, utilize branching scenarios, incorporate self-directed feedback, etc.
Again, some alternatives to those bland, true/false questions we all hate. Sequencing, short essays, or even a better-written question all stimulate learning in a way an A/B question doesn't.
Here's an idea: How about instead of scheduling a quiz right at the end of a training seminar, you let your students sit on it for a few days, then quiz them two or three days later, and see what's stuck. Some learners need that time to think about what they've learned, and you'll get away from people just cramming short-term information into their brains that they'll forget about 24 hours later.
Or, just have the quiz first. Pre-training knowledge-check exercises or quizzes pique trainees' interest, and help identify knowledge gaps, which can in turn motivate trainees to pay closer attention.
Here's a snazzy infographic with some good tips on designing questions and thinking about time limits. Did you know that time limits tend to benefit high scorers more than low scorers? Or that research shows very fast-paced tests tend to put women at a disadvantage?
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user Casey Serin.