Many of us start writing a quiz when we are sitting in front of our quiz-making software, and the software asks us whether we want a multiple-choice question or a true/false. We then go on instinct to make up a question that we feel relates to the topic just covered in the training. But this method, although it will arrive at a functional quiz that our learner can click through, may not be accurately doing what a quiz should do.
And what should a quiz do? Well, measure the learning, of course. But in order to measure the learning, we need to have a clear idea of what the learning should have been. And to have that clear idea, and then to make sure the quiz is actually measuring it, we need to have started preparing to write the quiz quite a while ago: when we were writing the objectives for the training.
What's that you say? You didn't write objectives? And now the training is in production? You will still end up needing to figure out the learning objectives in order to create successful quizzes. So let's take a look at some learning objectives for which you may need to create quizzes or other evaluations.
Learning objectives come in four kinds: things the learner must know, things the learner must be able to do, ways the learner must be able to interact with others, and things that affect the learner's emotional state or attitude. Let's focus first on the first two: things the learner must know, and things the learner must be able to do.
Let's start with things the learner will be required to know. For example, a training objective might be that after training, the learner should be able to name all 23 flavors of frozen yogurt our company offers-in order of popularity. Or it might be to list five ways to ship a package from their worksite. Or it might be to be able to spell the names of the members of our board of directors without any typos. These are straight-up knowledge objectives, and are fairly straightforward to create a quiz about.
But acquiring knowledge is typically only part of our learning objectives. Another type of objective is a skill--being able to do a particular task. It could be the ability to take our company's coffee machine out of the box and set it up and get it working at a client site. It might be the ability to correctly fill in an online form and submit the results to our server. It might be the ability to take an accurate pulse from a patient. These job skills require a different kind of assessment. Measuring learning with a multiple-choice quiz for these is not going to be a complete assessment.
Note that knowledge objectives may also encompass problem-solving. For example, the ability to decide to which department you should forward a call from a customer with a certain kind of question involves not just knowing the names of all our departments, but also being able to categorize the customer's problem and match it to the correct department. Solving that problem requires both knowledge and problem-solving. The ability to use our telephone switching software to actually forward the call?--that is a skill.
Challenge: Which of these objectives are primarily about knowledge, and which ones are about skills? Label each as Knowledge or Skill.
- The ability to list all of the counties in Maryland and name their county seat.
- The ability to create a formula in Excel to take the square root of a value.
- The ability to recognize the flavor names of ice cream that our company offers versus flavors that are not offered.
- The ability to play five major chords on a ukulele.
- The ability to list the notes of the pentatonic minor scale in A minor.
- The ability to activate the Track Changes command in Microsoft Word.
- The ability to spell out ten common acronyms used in our industry.
- The ability to calculate the interest due over the course of a 5-year car loan.
- The ability to set up a client's cell phone to directly access our database.
- The ability to locate a print booklet in our library on the seventh floor of our building.