Monday, February 16, 2009

When should we use pre tests?

I am hooked to Clark Quinn's blog posts on ID. When reading one such post, I came across another article, The Case Against Pre Testing for Online Courses by the same author. This had me thinking, when do I use pre-tests in courses?
  • When there is a discrepancy between what the learner knows and what he/she thinks he knows. It is a dangerous situation when the learner thinks he/she already knows what you are about to teach him/her but from your research you know otherwise.
  • If the learners' profile shows discrepancy in prior knowledge, pre tests help identify which path will be best suitable for the learner. For example, the pre test shows that the learner is good at communication skills but poor in active listening, he/she will be directly taken to active listening.
  • To help the learner understand which areas need more focus.
  • To help the learner understand more about themselves. For example: You have a personality test to help the learner understand his/her personality type.
This being said its not necessary to have a pre test in all courses. Pre test should not be used for the following:
  • To judge where the learner is; we should have already done our research to identify this
  • When motivation to learn is high; it may be demotivating to continue with the course if the feedback is not encouraging
  • To set expectations; your objectives screen and gain attention screen should be sufficient to set expectations
Pre tests are effective tools when used correctly. Pre tests should be designed carefully. These are very useful for soft skills such as communication, personality types, and so on. Well designed pre tests are non-judgemental and encouraging.

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