Some courseware vendors have begun promoting their pre-tests as prescriptive tools. If a trainee passes certain sections of the pre-test, she will be automatically taken only to those learning units she did not pass. She will not be directed to the other learning units.

There is a real danger with this practice and having produced more than four hundred training courses as Founder and former CEO of ITC Learning, I steadfastly avoided this process (with the exception of “reading level placement” in ITC’s “Reading and Writing Enhancement” series).

Pre-tests provided by vendors’ courseware are incomplete testing units. They typically have only one-to-five questions pertaining to each learning objective in the program. With those few questions, it is impossible to gauge the student’s mastery of that learning objective. Forced placement will most often cheat the learner from thoroughly understanding the knowledge he is seeking.

We also know from many surveys that individuals can guess correctly and, unfortunately due to forced placement, be directed to skip sections of the learning that they never mastered in the first place.

All in all, forced skipping of learning sections is a dangerous practice if knowledge mastery is desired.

Instead one should adopt a proven “Skills Assessment Test” which will allow students with proven mastery to skip required courses and, therefore, save the organization both time and money. A valid Skills Assessment System allows you to develop and deliver targeted assessments aligned to specific performance objectives by identifying individual skill gaps and prescribing training to address those skill gaps.

Pre-test analysis is shaky as is most immediate post-testing (the final exam). A far, far better method for determining learning mastery is to administer a post-test six months, or more, after the learner has finished his coursework. You will then be able to test retention, which is the only true measurement of learning.

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com