“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. This famous quote by Management Guru Peter Drucker cannot be more relevant in the context of learning and particularly e-learning. The very objective of learning is to improve the performance outcomes, through consistent practice which leads to behavioural level changes and hence improved outcomes. Learning assessments thus become a significant way of measuring what has been understood by the learners.

What is an assessment?

An assessment is a process of assessing a learners performance in measurable terms or in other words an assessment helps to measure in quantifiable terms, a person’s knowledge, skills, etc.

Why are assessments important?

The primary role of assessments is to measure the learning outcomes. While every e-learning modules have definite learning objectives, assessments help to understand if the learning objectives are achieved by the learners and if not what are the shortcomings.

As you may be aware, there are essentially two types of assessments-summative assessment and the formative assessment.

What are summative assessments?

Summative assessment is used to determine if the learner has achieved the learning objectives by reaching the desired level of proficiency.
They are included towards the end of the elearning module, where the learner is provided with a final score or a grade.

What are formative assessments?

Formative assessments mostly include activities and are conducted after completing each topic or a sub-module. The primary aim here is to offer continuous and immediate feedback to the learners and thus allowing the learners to improve.

Designing of assessments is not a simple process.If assignments are designed well, the results will reveal the extent to which employees have understood the concepts discussed in the module.Thus, an assessment doesn’t simply mean inserting multiple choice questions or fill in the blanks, etc.
Now, let us see some of the ways assessments are designed with reference to the already
discussed types of formative and summative assessments.

Multiple Choice

This is one of the most popular types of assessment in e-learning and consists of a question with an option of generally two to five answers (mostly which are very similar) from which learners have to choose the correct one.
Multiple choice tests are best adapted for testing lower-order skills. If the objectives of the assessments are more about analysing deeper skills like decision making skills or critical thinking skills of the learners, then I would not recommend multiple choice questions as assessment options.
One of the biggest drawbacks of multiple choice questions is the higher probability of learners guessing the answers rather than recollecting it from the learning experience. Hence while designing multiple choice questions one should be careful about not giving an easy opportunity to guess the correct answer.

Tips to design multiple choice questions:

1.If you are having four possible options for the answer, one option should be the correct answer with no ambiguity involved.Make sure the sentence structure is simple and clear without any ambiguity.
2.Ensure that the correct answers are at random positions – not always at (a) or (b) or some other similar pattern throughout.
3.Try to use similar sounding words or options to check the learner’s attentiveness.

Matching/Drag and Drop

Matching shows the relationship between two sets of data, one has to match the other. The learner is expected to match to the corresponding correct answers. Matching exercises can be either text-based or graphics based.

Tips to design Matching type elearning assessments

1.Ensure that there are clear instructions given to the learners on how to perform the assessment.
2.Ensure that while designing the assessments, the length of the contents are small so that it doesn’t overflow in the limited screen space.

The drag-and-drop format is quite commonly used as an alternative to the matching options. The learner is required to drop the correct answer in the corresponding box or tab that corresponds to the question or a fixed option. Drag and drop activities are quite

Tips to design drag and drop type elearning assessments

1.The question should clearly explain the drag-drop activity, that is, what to drag and where to drop.
2.The place where the options are to be dropped should be clearly visible.
3.You can include a submit/reset button so that the learners can reset the choice made.

Fill in the blanks

This assessment style refers to the practice of omitting important and relevant words from a paragraph or a sentence and getting learners to identify the correct words. This type of assessment can be used wherever you want the learner to recall a specific information.

For example, A pharma salesperson selling a hypertension drug should clearly remember the systolic and diastolic blood pressure or a normal heartbeat etc. In such situations, fill in the blanks are the best way for the person to fill in the information and recall it.

Tips to design fill in the blanks type elearning assessments

1.Sentences or text should give an adequate idea to the learner about the answer.
2.Don’t include many blanks in a single question, as that wouldn’t help the learners to make a logical choice and can lead to confusion and demotivation.

Fill in the blanks can be used in most courses such as

• Product Training
• Compliance Training

Puzzles

They are another form of assessments, which are generally used as a part of formative assessments. Puzzles are generally used to test on a whole to part relationship or are designed around a framework, process or system and induce the learners with the feeling of “Yes! I want to solve it”. They can be in any form such as crossword puzzles, labeling activities where learners will have to identify diagrams and so on.

Puzzles are quite commonly used in :

Language learning
Compliance learning like fire safety
Product training like the assembly of hardware/machinery etc

Tips to design puzzles type of elearning assessments

1.While puzzles can bring interactivity and engagement to the learners, design puzzles with a moderate level of complexity as it can be used by all types of learners .
2. Since puzzles require a bit of design thinking it is recommended to organize the content well, which needs to be converted to puzzles. Think if the content really can be assessed by using puzzles or any other alternative options can be used.

While there are many other ways to design e-learning assessments, I have put together the most popular ones.