It’s Time We Think About Assessments

Tell–>Test, Tell–>Test, Tell–>Test.


This is traditional e-Learning and I disagree with it.  It’s a passive and punishment model.  First, you passively read/watch/listen to content, then you get a superfluous test on it, usually multiple-choice.  I hate multiple choice, matching, true/false, drag and drop, pull-down menu quizzes. I think they miss the mark for several reasons:

  • They can be “gamed.”  With a multiple choice quiz of four, you have a 25% chance of getting the right answer even if you don’t know it.
  • 50% chance of getting the right answer even if you don’t know it for True/False.
  • You may know 995 things about the subject, but not the five things the quiz asks you.  It is not a good show of the actual mastery of the concepts.
  • You may be having a bad day.  Not enough sleep, fight at home the night before, distracted by stress.
  • “Passing Grade” set arbitrarily.

Passing grades are a ridiculous concept to me.  I agree with Salman Khan’s book “The One World Schoolhouse.”  He gives some great analogies why the concept of a “passing grade” is not very productive.  If 75% is the passing grade for a subject, how would you like to drive around in a car with only 75% of its wheels?  How about living in a house whose ground foundation is only 75% done?  Or, how would you feel about having your master bedroom on the second floor of a house whose weight-bearing pillars can only handle 75% of the load for the second floor?  By the way, when was the last time at work that your boss asked you a multiple choice quiz and was satisfied by a 75% answer?  By accepting 75% as a passing grade, we handicap our learners to then graduate to more difficult concepts with only 75% of the foundational knowledge or ability they need to succeed.

So, what should we do?  We should do “do” assessments.  Instead of asking our learner recall something that can pass a multiple-choice quiz, we should ask them to demonstrate mastery of the learning objectives.  They should have to practice a skill-based activity over and over again until they get it right “all the time.”  What does “all the time” mean?  That means 100% is the passing grade.  An example could be practicing a skill until they get it right 10 times in a row within a certain period of time.  If they get nine out of 10 in a string, make them do another string until they get all the questions or tasks right.

Make them master the concept.

Comments, jabs, refutes, discussions?

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