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Designing Web-Based Training: How to Teach Anyone Anything Anywhere Anytime by William Horton

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7.2. PLAN TESTING CAREFULLY

Before you begin writing a test, take a few minutes for the high-level design decisions that determine the kind of test you create.

Our plan s miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harb or he is making for, no wind is the righ t wind.

—Seneca

7.2.1. Why are you testing?

One of your first decisions in designing a test is to list your goals. Here are some reasons for testing. Some are good, and some are not.

Good reasonsBad reasons
  • Let learners gauge progress toward their goals.

  • Emphasize what is important and thereby motivate learners to focus on it.

  • Let learners apply what they have been learning-and thereby learn it more deeply.

  • Monitor success of parts of the course so that the instructor and designers can improve it.

  • Certify that learners have mastered certain knowledge or skills. To meet a legal or licensing requirement.

  • Fulfill stereotypes and expectations. It's a course; therefore, it must have tests.

  • Give the instructor power over learners. Pay attention or else.

  • Torture learners. Training is supposed to be painful. Tests can ensure that it is.

  • Prove to management, clients, and customers that the course works. (Proving success of the course is not bad-just using tests to do it.)

Consider testing carefully. Contradictions lurk within these lists. What learners want to learn may not square with what instructors want to teach. Knowledge required for certification may not be sufficient to actually do the job.

Once you have decided ...

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