Best practices

5 Best Practices for Effective Performance Questions

Performance questions are those ultimate questions that require your eLearners to perform actual work. Performance questions measure the learner’s capability to perform complex activities. If your learners are able to complete the assigned tasks in the performance test, they pass. They are ready to perform the real activity in their work context. In this article, we cover two areas: when to use performance questions and how to make them effective.

No eLearning training is complete without testing for performance. In fact, managers want to see scores in these types of testing, to determine if the employee is ready to perform.

Performance questions are the pinnacle of training programs and are usually based on the performance context. These opportunities enable learners to perform in a lower-stakes setting, where errors will not prove to be drastic or life-threatening. Perhaps the best result of a performance test is the rating of the eLearning course.

Think about it: if your learners perform well in these tests, you get a boost as an eLearning professional within your organization!

When to Use Performance Questions in eLearning Courses

What situations require you to create performance questions? Consider these questions in order to decide better:

· Are you testing the ability to perform a procedure, rather than the abstract knowledge about a subject?

· Is the procedure complex? Does it require the learners to make decisions, as opposed to following a sequence of steps?

· Is the speed of performing the task important to the success of the task?

· Are you qualifying people to perform the task in the real world?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you definitely need to create performance questions. Let’s determine the five ways to design effective performance questions:

Five Best Practices to Design Performance Questions

1. Simplify the test:

A performance test should measure the ability to perform a task, but not teach a task – that’s what the rest of the eLearning course is for. Avoid exposing the learners to more than necessary by providing more choices and options. Focus on the target objective and create a question that demonstrates specific learning.

A good idea to start with, is the learning objective. Try to divide one learning objective into learning sub-objectives. Create a performance test bases on one learning sub-objective.

2. State the goal clearly:

Reveal the purpose of the test clearly. There is no room for ambiguity in performance questions. State any restrictions early on. Is there any feature or tool required to perform the test? What is the time limit for the test? All information to achieve the goal should be easily available.

As a rule of thumb, list all useful information in the beginning. Try to color-code them and use icons to remind wherever necessary, throughout the test. The helps keep the rules in mind and the learner set on the target.

3. Explain the question:

Make sure your learners know how to answer the performance questions.

Explain the parts they can see on their screen well. They should know what knobs to turn, what buttons to press and where to get hints. If possible, add a blinking link that says “Try Me”. Upon clicking, this links takes the learner to a demo page. Here, you can explain the features of each interactivity.

Also, remind them that the “Help” button will guide them if they are lost. After trying out the demo page, learners will feel confident of what is expected of them.

4. Reveal the limits:

Know that your performance questions will not be able to emulate the real-world tasks completely. There will always be variation in the work context.

How exactly is the performance test different from the real world?

Tell the learners of the dangerous aspects of the real system. Inform them of the real world capabilities and features not available to them. Warnings and real-world reactions can be shown with the aid of screen-vibrators or rendering the entire screen red or blacked out. This explains the grim nature of the reaction to a certain interactivity. Explain real-world risks and fatalities associated with such reactions.

5. Spell out scoring rules:

Include the grading criteria by providing a performance rubric. Are your learners going to be rewarded for speed or penalized for being too slow? What about the number of actions they take? What about scoring for mistakes? Explain these criteria clearly.

If possible, gamify the performance test. It helps raise the stakes even higher. Learners know exactly how to behave and answer in the learning environment to be rewarded with stars or badges. In the beginning of the test, explain the scoring rules with the aid of stars and badges. Try to create a demo of the gamification system in action. Showing them everything before their performance helps simulates the desirable behavior within the eLearning Course.

Performance tests are easier to create if you have clear performance objectives. Discuss with your line managers to create the desired performance objectives. Use these 5 best practices to create better performance questions within your eLearning courses.

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