Quizzing Your Learners: It’s How You Say It


It's not what you say, it's how you say it...so goes the adage.

This is especially true when you’re surveying or quizzing learners to determine how much they’ve learned about the topic covered during training. Asking the right way is very important. We’ve all taken quizzes in which the questions pretty much answered themselves. You end up with the feeling that the information you just learned isn’t really all that important, it’s just some required bit of whatnot to make a training seem credible--- kind of like the garnish on your plate; it has no dietary value or flavor, it’s just there to make your plate look fancy.

Asking a question the right way can force a learner to think about what they just saw. For instance, after watching a required eLearning video on how a manager should deal with sexual harassment issues between employees, a manager may learn that he or she must report all harassment complaints to the corporate office, by law. The quiz question on that topic can be asked two ways:

“Are you required by federal law to report every incident of sexual harassment that is reported to you?”

The answer is obvious. You don’t even need to see the training to know the answer to that one. Be more creative in the phrasing of the question:

“As a manager, you want to be sensitive to the associates that report to you. Can you address a sexual harassment complaint on your own, to spare an associate from possible embarrassment?”

The answer isn’t so obvious here, is it? In fact, you almost want to say “Sure you can. After all, you don’t want to embarrass anyone.” But, if you paid attention and understood the training, you know you can’t.

Quizzing Your Learners Is Important Because…

  • It allows you to evaluate training retention. Were participants paying attention, or were they secretly on their phone and just clicking the “next” button?
  • You can glean the effectiveness of the course based on how participants’ respond to the questions. If a significant percentage miss the same question, there’s an issue either with the question itself or part of the training content.
  • It gives you some perspective of the individual learner, as well as entire groups, so you can look for trends in the rate of success or failure.
  • It allows you another chance to reinforce the content and provide feedback. Quizzes are a learning mode.

Here are some other things to think about when writing assessment questions: 

  • Be sure it makes sense and is directly tied to the learning objectives.
  • Have someone proofread for typos, incorrect grammar and other concerns.
  • If the question is complicated, offer an example to add context.

Quizzing is for evaluating how much a learner retained from training, as well as the effectiveness of the instructional design. If the questions lead to the answers, or aren’t making the learner think, they aren’t giving you a very accurate picture of success.


If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

Will Holland