People have many different perspectives in regards to the use and value of assessment in web-based training. For some, assessment is just a great way to check off whether or not a person has taken the training, others go a step further and use it as a measure of how well the person was trained, but few see assessment as not only a measurement tool, but also a means to increase learning.
One way to increase learning is through incorporating informal assessments. Using this type of assessment throughout web based training can provide a valuable way for people to find out what they know, and more importantly, what they don’t know. While some may feel that the purpose of informal assessment should only be to confirm learning, I believe that this type of assessment can also create opportunities for learning. For example, a well-placed and challenging application question can serve to shake people out of the complacency of thinking they already know everything. Often when a person finds that they have answered a question incorrectly, it causes them to stop and consider a more complete view of the concept and of how the knowledge could apply to other situations.
One of the best ways to capitalize on these learning opportunities is to provide adequate feedback. Simply finding out that a response is correct or incorrect does not help the learner overcome their misconceptions, but offering specific and immediate feedback for incorrect responses can provide the rationale necessary to correct misconceptions and enrich understanding of difficult concepts.
Although it’s helpful for learners to receive positive reinforcement for correct responses, they also need a safe environment to be challenged and given opportunities to learn from their mistakes during informal assessment so that they can be better prepared to apply the knowledge in real world settings and feel a sense of accomplishment as a result of their corporate training experience.
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