Beyond the imposed multi-choice test?

For years we have all subscribed, maybe reluctantly, to the ‘quick and dirty’ test questions that pervade the accredited course providers and awarding bodies as “the most efficient and effective way to test knowledge and understanding” as proof that food workers have been trained.

Of course such tests have their place – a quickly performed and administered test leading to almost instant results is very useful be able to impose focus, claim success, and generate a worthy and recognised certificate of achievement. And additionally, it enables confident issue of an invoice!

But…(I hate using that word as an introduction, but needs must, for emphasis) do such tests actually prove anything?

Test results, down to the detail of which answer an individual worker gave in a test, can be used and misused in all sorts of ways, so we need to be sure our testing regimes stand scrutiny, legal and otherwise.

Many MCQ tests (multi-choice question tests) are prone to poor construction, limited to tests of memory and recall, and often surprisingly non-accessible or prejudicial to those with learning challenges of all types. Awarding bodies are often the most disappointing in their construction of test questions and papers, ignoring well understood principles of question design and test paper compilation. Sadly, this can sometimes lead to the hard-to-resist temptation for the trainer to subtly coach learners in the art of answering such questions. (and sometimes not so subtle!)

I will shortly be posting some ideas on how to construct your own formative and summative assessments which can be far more useful and effective, as a compliment to the external tests that you still may need to use to be able to offer a credible certificate. Combining these will give you as a trainer the added confidence and proof that you did actually teach to a real purpose, and not just coach to someone else’s exam to get the certificate!


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