To Score or Not to Score?

Instructional designers, especially those who work on federal contract, often experience the dilemma as to whether or not they should score assessments. While some believe that assessments must be scored; there are others, who do not feel that way. Learners who like scored assessments feel that knowing how they did on the test helps them master the content.

You probably noticed that often, when you take an assessment and get the question wrong, you receive the following type of feedback: “Sorry, but you did not get it right.”  There are learners who are afraid of failure and feel that scored tests are a pedagogical approach to learning not suitable for adults who simply need guidance to achieve better performance results, not scores. In spite of negative attitudes, scored assessments provide information to management about learners’ progress and determine whether the learner is ready to move on to the next, more advanced level.

When it comes to assessments instructional designers should take the requirements of each course into consideration. They should also learn about the organizational culture to determine whether the assessments should be scored or not.  If the client does not want to see scores, it is always possible to offer unscored quizzes or self-assessments that provide valuable corrective feedback without assigning scores.

Whether instructional designers end up scoring assessments or not, I suggest avoiding making any negative remarks and focusing on meaningful feedback.

You can read more about assessments in my Instructional Design for ELearning book. 


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