There are two schools of thought on this. Adding a Pre Test to gain entry to an on-line course and/or a workshop or not. As well there are as many middle-school thoughts in between. In my experience, here are the top two:
- Pre Test is to measure a learner’s current knowledge of the subject prior to taking the class while the Post Test compares the two for the learner to see value in what they just accomplished.
- Pre Test is only to measure the developer and/or facilitator and to show stakeholders the value of the course. “See, we have 82% improvement after taking the course.” Where there is no real value to the learner.
I’m on the fence ever time I build a course as I can see merit in both thoughts. In the first example lets say I have a curriculum of 4 courses. The learner must have a fundamental knowledge of the overall subject prior to taking the course along with a few other qualifiers: time with company, time in position, etc. The Pre Test will gauge the learner’s knowledge in that subject. If they pass, the gain access. If they fail, they are given other training in the areas the Pre Test identified as weaknesses. This sort of pre-qualifier ensures those who take the course have the minimum level of knowledge and will contribute as well as comprehend new information. How many times have you attended a course of instruction that clearly outlined prerequisites to then see the instructor spend time teaching the basics to someone that should have not been in that class? I agree with issuing a Pre Test for this type of instruction.
I don’t agree with simply slapping a Pre Test in front of a course, on-line or otherwise, with no strategy. I often hear, “We need a Pre Test so we know how well they did after the course.” They? Or We?
On a middle-school of thought, I do see merit in a Pre Test to gauge how well the questions were formed and how they relate to the content. For example, if 100 learners take a course no one missed question #3. Is that question too easy? Is it a gimme? Or of the 100 learners, everyone missed question #9. Was it too vague? Was it misleading? This information is valuable to the content developers and instructors.
Some middle-school of thoughts are to form the Pre Test and Post Test with different questions. Where the Pre Test questions gauge a learner’s pre-knowledge of the subject – similar to an aptitude test you or I would take that scores us on the knowledge we already know. Where the Post Test questions are geared directly to the ‘new’ content presented in the course.
What’s your take? When is it best to use a Pre Test and when is it of no value?