Online Testing – Does it Work?

You may have some things you have to test people on for compliance, to show that you have done the required training and provide evidence that the training was effective. And there may be other policies, and procedures and just how to do a job correctly that you want to know that everyone is working from the same knowledge.

The beauty of setting up a test online is that with the technology today you can do this without a lot of cost and time. The testing technology today is much more than just multiple choice or true/false test questions. There are options to use practice quizzes, assignments, student/facilitator interactions to create a highly effective testing process. A lot can be learned from monitoring the test results as they reveal areas of common misunderstandings or knowledge gaps.

There are three types of online tests:

  1. Practice Tests or Quizzes, are sometimes mixed in with the learning materials or provided as a pretest option to allow trainees to see what the test question format is like and gain some confidence before taking the test or exam.
  2. Module Tests or Unit Tests are set up at the end of each of the modules or units within the course. Having separate modules within the course materials breaks up the course making it less intimidating. Trainees can do part of the course, take the test and then take a break between the modules.
  3. Exams are based on the full set of materials and are common in more formal education courses, or continuing education testing. For some courses can be a penalty for not passing the exam, such as having to purchase an additional retest, or be delayed from retrying the exam.

Ideas for creating rules for testing

The most important part of the process is being clear about what you want to do and the outcome you are looking for. For example, what is an acceptable pass rate? The greater the consequences of an incorrect answer the greater the justification for a higher pass rate. 80% may seem like a high pass rate. But would you be OK with someone who had 20% wrong doing that job?

One way to get around this is to have a 100% pass rate but allow the trainee to take a retest, which only gives them the incorrect answers until they get them all correct. This can act as a testing debrief to make sure all people taking the test know all the correct answers.

When creating test questions having a pool of question to draw a test sample from will allow you to have some randomness in the questions, and adding the ability to shuffle the answers will prevent someone from telling someone else that the answer to that question was “C” because when they get it, the order may be changed.

What about cheating in online testing?

Cheating on a test can be a problem in any kind of testing delivery. There are steps that can be taken to ensure that the person scheduled to take the test is that person, such as having tests proctored at designated locations. If you really wanted to you could set up a webcam authentication to watch the person as they completed the testing.

A well designed testing system can build in ways to scan a person’s answers to look for matches to other users or to look for matches to an online search. This type of function can quickly and easily catch someone who has copied another person’s answer from another test or from online content they used.

A lot of testing online is multiple choice or true/false to allow the computer to score it automatically and give the trainee immediate feedback. By using question pools, shuffling the questions and the answers it makes it very difficult to give someone your answers.

It is difficult to prevent cheating in any setting. There is however plenty of tools and techniques to make someone go to enough work that they give up and just do the work they need to do.

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