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Quest for the perfect question:

Quest for the perfect question:

The art of writing valid and relevant questions has long been a holy grail pilgrimage for content developers and trainers across many delivery methods. While the intentions of many writers is good the outcomes can sometimes be less than desirable.


I was recently asked how to improve question writing, what template could be used and what development process suits assessment production. These are all valid and common industry questions and addressing these questions can invoke a large amount of discussion but the basic principles are as follows.

Question writing is a daunting task requiring demanding amounts of imagination and creativity. When beginning the task of question writing I always think about the three important factors the training is trying to achieve. Firstly what is the outcome we want for the student or what information is important for the student to retain. Secondly what level of question is required and thirdly what types of question will challenge the student in the best way. It is never advisable to force or pressure questions out of a developer as this often stifles creativity. I recommend a change of scenery or break from the process as the most productive tool for increased creativity.

Once I have the clear vision of what I am trying to achieve with the assessment I start constructing the assessment in the Ammonite platform. The Ammonite platform has a simple but powerful templating tool for assessments. I use this template to test out ideas and concepts before finalising a question.

Lastly, development strategies always change from project to project but the flexibility and versatility of the Ammonite platform allows both waterfall and agile development styles to flourish within the platform. Personally an agile approach has worked best within my development career because of the task level approach within the platform, this is important and allows for a short time turnaround from concept to testing when approaching learning in this way.

Testing is by far the most understated but extremely important part of the development strategy process and it is important for assessment writers to approach testing with the mindset of being at the learning level of their students including prior knowledge and required LLN level. The testing approach can be achieved through both a trainer and student portal but the student experience should be the preferred method as it gives the customer experience. Feedback received via customer testing is also a valid approach to testing that requires the feedback task being strategically added at the end of content learning.

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