Tailoring assessments to different learning styles

Tailoring assessments to different learning styles

We’ve all experienced the drudgery of predictable eLearning, with its repetitive ‘module, then test’, ‘module, then test’ structure; and some of you have probably ‘beaten the system’ by writing down key points, or taking screen shots to sneak your way to a pass mark at the end. We even heard a story recently of a sales manager photocopying the correct answers to an eLearning test and distributing to his employees to save them some time (and guarantee they didn’t learn a thing!)

It seems that this formulaic approach to checking that people have ‘got’ your content isn’t working for learners (and it certainly isn’t providing the verification that instructional designers intended) which begs the question; if assessments in big blocks at the end of learning events aren’t doing the job, then what’s the solution?

This made us think; if one type of learning isn’t right for everyone because people learn differently, then why should one type of assessment be right for everyone? Maybe we can apply learning styles principles to the way we test too, and create a more tailored approach to match individual preferences.

After some quality time spent with learning styles theories, we came to the following distinction;
Reflectors (who like to think about what they learn before making any decisions) might be well suited to a consolidated assessment which can be completed a while after the learning event, whereas pragmatists (who show a preference for practising as they go) are likely to prefer frequent bursts of knowledge followed by short checks to verify what they have learned.

So, in practice, how can you tailor your learning to suit these different preferences? First of all, try asking your learners what they want. The element of choice in eLearning helps to break up navigation patterns, and helps to engage your learners while they are progressing through a course.

An option at the beginning of a course to choose how they want to be tested would bring in this element of choice, and also help to make the assessment as valuable as possible by ensuring it’s done in the way that will help the learner the most. N.B. Testing a group of learners on the same content, yet in a variety of different ways, also makes it a little more tricky for their boss to provide photocopied versions of the answers!

Want to talk to us about tailoring your elearning assignments? Get in touch.

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