Writing good assessments is of course a major part of learning design, but before anyone writes any questions, it’s worth putting some thought into deciding which question types you want to include. You may want multiple choice questions, but you might want other item types as well. Or maybe you want something completely different. To make sense of this decision, we’ve constructed this overview of the process of choosing item types, and in subsequent posts we’ll provide an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the most common (and even some of the less common) item types.
When we design assessments at Second Avenue Learning, we remember our experiences as learners. As learners, we remember when tests were fair, clear, and well-connected with what we were supposed to be learning. That doesn’t mean that we necessarily enjoyed the testing experience, but we could tell when a test was well designed. We also remembered what it felt like to take tests that were confusing and arbitrary.
Imagine that you’re a visitor from another world, examining the US education system. Much of the experience would be pretty close to what you might expect of Earthlings, but you might be surprised to find out how much time we spend on tests. And it isn’t just taking the tests, either. It’s also the time preparing for the tests, reviewing key concepts, practicing under realistic and time-pressured conditions, and getting students ready for the psychological aspects of testing.
Gamification is trending these days. Or is it game-based learning? Or serious games? Or something else? Does it really make a difference? It’s possible to create an intricate matrix of terms and definitions on this subject,1 but does that really help anyone?
Recently, I joined our CEO, Tory VanVoorhis, on a panel to discuss the potential of games in the world of assessment. We explained what games can do, how to build them, and key questions to get you started. To motivate the discussion, we asked the attendees to identify the skills that they might like to measure with games. Here are the skills that were mentioned most often: