Assessment Program for Learning and Training

Creating an Assessment Program for Learning and Training

Planning

When it comes to planning an assessment, an organization needs to look beyond working out just the assessment structure. Structure and format are important, but they don’t address the key area an  assessment aims at – demonstrating alignment with business objectives. In fact, this is where the schism between the learning manager and the top management develops. While the former sees the assessment primarily as an exercise in logistics and structuring, for the latter it’s a significant expense that needs to be justified business-wise.assessment

To reconcile these points of view, it is necessary that the assessment program lies at the intersection of three important attributes: Effectiveness deals with a training program’s ability to bring about the improvement required of it. Flexibility demands that the program be capable of rapid adaptation in response to changing market conditions;

and correctness ensures that the training program has highly specific and relevant objectives that will directly translate into business returns.

The other important requirement for successful planning is in-depth knowledge of your target audience. Some of the attributes to be clearly known in advance are:

Ÿ Local laws

Ÿ Sophistication

Ÿ Culture

Ÿ Tech-savviness

Ÿ Prior exposure

Flexibility

Test items

Development of test items is the next step in formulating an assessment. By now, the planning part is over, and the purpose and target audience are clearly known. Although the guidelines for item development vary according to assessment type, the following rules of thumb are helpful:

Ÿ Once you have developed a test item, have it reviewed by an independent third party. Is the item legible, and does it state clearly what is being asked? Often it so happens that the purpose of a test item is “obvious” to the creator but is lost on the test-taker.

Ÿ Avoid the use of humor in test items. There’s a twofold reason for this: first, humor is highly subjective; and second, in written forms of communication, the intent is easily misunderstood or lost.

Ÿ If a test item involves logical deduction, double check to make sure the expected answer is the only possibility.

Ÿ Make the test instructions as detailed as possible. Extensively cover do’s and don’ts to make sure that people have a clear idea of how the test is to be taken.

Ÿ Make the language plain and easy to understand, and avoid verbosity. That is not to say that you

should be cryptic, but that you should cut down on extraneous information.

Ÿ Ensure that local laws are adhered to. For instance, in certain geographies it is mandatory to have a separate test version for the visually challenged.

 Delivery

Delivery is the medium of administering an assessment. This can be paper-based or electronic, and in some cases even oral (although the responses will still need to be stored somewhere). For selecting the right medium of assessment delivery, the following considerations are important:

Ÿ Content protection: The content of an assessment is the most important asset of a training program, and needs to be protected at all costs. Some common forms of content theft include test papers being stolen, or participants copying questions on the rough sheets provided and taking them home. Secure delivery of content is also important, which means that the medium chosen for assessment delivery should be reliable.

Ÿ Cheating: When the objective is to foster learning, cheating can undermine the whole assessment

program. The practice of cheating is especially prevalent in off-site assessments, where proctors are

involved and likelihood of mistakes, honest or otherwise, increases.

Ÿ Efficiency: Speed and efficiency are important when it comes to delivering an assessment.

Organizations want to minimize operational complexities and overheads, while maintaining as much flexibility as possible. Computer-based assessments, though not foolproof, come quite close to offering all these advantages. However, without an anti-cheating module in place, a digital assessment platform is not much good.

 Evaluation

Evaluation of an assessment can be of two types: item assessment and test assessment. While the former deals with individual items and tells how a candidate fared, test assessment is used to improve the exam itself. Provided that data from a good number of tests is available, a statistical analysis can be performed to reveal interesting insights. For instance, if a particular test item was answered correctly by most participants, it’s likely that it was too easy and should be tweaked. Similarly, multiple-choice questions where all options received equal votes are the ones where participants most likely resorted to guesswork. Also, test items that were left out by most were probably too difficult.

Paper or Online?

Should assessments be paper-based or online? While several organizations continue to struggle with paper-based assessments, they don’t need to. Online assessments offer several significant advantages, such as:

Ÿ Extensibility: Digital platforms can easily produce the kind of assessments needed, whether formative, reactive, or other. This becomes a major challenge with paper-based assessments, as paper as a medium has severe limitations when it comes to interactivity and presentation.

Ÿ Extensibility: Digital platforms can easily produce the kind of assessments needed, whether formative, reactive, or other. This becomes a major challenge with paper-based assessments, as paper as a medium has severe limitations when it comes to interactivity and presentation.

Ÿ Improved speed: For any modern organization, speed is of essence, more so when it comes to

learning and training. This is another key factor that speaks in favor of online assessments, as results are obtained and published immediately; this also makes reporting more efficient.

Ÿ Improved speed: For any modern organization, speed is of essence, more so when it comes to

learning and training. This is another key factor that speaks in favor of online assessments, as results are obtained and published immediately; this also makes reporting more efficient.

Ÿ Cheating-proof: Software solutions that have webcam proctoring and behavior monitoring built in, go a long way to prevent cheating and maintain effectiveness of the assessment. These are not just cost effective but also much better and reliable at preventing cheating than manual proctoring is.

Ÿ Customization: Online assessments can be tailored to meet the learning needs of different teams, and even individuals, with far more ease. This is made possible with the use of Application Programming Interfaces (API) provided by online platforms, helping organizations integrate these into existing systems.

Assessments and Succession Planning

While the entry- to mid-level positions in an organization provide manpower, it is the leadership positions that breathe life into the business. That’s why succession planning has received widespread attention of late. A high rate of turnover at senior positions leave an organization with serious “holes”, which can’t be filled by the traditional route of on-demand hiring. Instead, organizations need to spot high-performers  early and take them through a well-structured process of development that empowers them to take on critical roles in future.

Conclusion

Of course every organization is unique and this format may not work for everyone. That said, it can serve as a good starting point in planning leadership assessment.