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Seb Anthony

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Ways to test people’s knowledge post training


Help - all the testing that I do post courses (except for software training) are questions set to people under exam conditions. Can anyone offer me any alternatives, but still be able to clearly assess knowledge?

4 Responses

  1. Knowledge Testing
    Testing under exam conditions I guess is a good way to ensure that invididual members of staff do indeed understand the basics.

    Thinking about other methods, I started to move into the area of testing the application of the knowledge.

    I’m actually working now on focusing on the outputs of the training (the application), more so than the inputs (the knowledge), so my approach is to test the knowledge via traditional methods, but then to assess the application of the knowledge and any newly aquired skills via a series of timed follow-up activities.

  2. Depends
    It really depends on the subject of what you are training.
    For example, to ‘test’ whether customer service skills are being put into practise after a course, I would monitor the individual’s calls to ensure skills learnt are being applied.
    If it’s IT skills, they have a refresher session which involves them completing exercises.
    I personally would steer away from ‘exams’ as this strikes fear in the heart of learners. However, I do acknowledge that some topics will require exam follow ups.

  3. Testing – where and when
    Katy, Testing knowledge is fine and neccersary in some cases. If it is needed you might consider waiting a week before testing to identify the residual knowledge. Testing immediatly after the training doesn’t neccersarily give you an accurate figure for knowledge retention. in addition you could go down Kirkpatrick’s Level 3 route and find out what difference the knowledge has made to the way they peform their jobs. Either by using emulations, scenarios or other materials that get them to apply the specific knowledge to a work based situation.

  4. Testing knowledge
    I suppose it depends why you are testing the knowledge. Is it the knowledge that is important or the application of that knowledge? Also, what do you mean by “exam conditions”? And is the pressure created by exam conditions of any value to the assessment?

    I ask these questions because my background is in military flying, we used to impart a lot of knowledge and, initially, retention of that knowledge was what we tested. Subsequently, at least once a year, we used to examine people both on the ground and in the air. Both were carried out under ‘exam conditions’; in the oral ground examination I would aim to cover as much knowledge, and the application of it, as I could by using plausible scenarios. In addition I tried to stretch and develop it. In the airborne examination I would fly with people on regular flights (not scenarios I had engineered) to see how they operated in the real world. This gave ample opportunity for me to further assess their knowledge but, more importantly, how they applied it on a day to day basis. It also gave me the chance to develop their knowledge and skills further.

    We also used to have a standardisation meeting every 3 months where all the other agencies we worked with on a day to day basis would attend. This was the opportunity for all of us to discuss aspects of training that had been succesful, identify gaps that were still present in the training, and generally assess the value of the training: at it’s ultimate level this was reflected in increased safety and less accidents/incidents.

    Very specific examples in my case, because my remit was well defined, which leads me straight back to my opening gambit; it depends why you are testing the knowledge.

    Like training it all has to be kept in context: what were the performance, standards and conditions of the original objectives?

    Howard Jones


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