I wrote this for the Sri Lanka Safe Hospital Initiative OCIL Group on October 8, 2014.
An educational test by its traditional usage is done primarily to assess and evaluate the learning of learners or students.
A pretest is one that is administered prior to the start of a teaching-learning session, module or course to assess the entry or baseline competency of the learners or students.
A post-test or a summative test is one that is administered at the end of a teaching-learning session, module or course to assess the end-of-session, module or course or terminal competency of the learners or students. If there is a pretest administered along with a post-test, the achievement of the learners or students can be quantified.
A secondary objective of an educational test is learning for the learners or students. As they take the test, they somehow learn or reinforce what they learn in the session, module, or course proper. After the test, after getting the correct answers to items they answered wrongly, again, somehow they learn.
Thus, the benefits of an educational test consist of evaluation of learning acquired by the students with concomitant reinforcement of learning or additional learning.
The limitations center around an educational test not being absolute – in validity, consistency, and perfection. Teachers formulating the test questions have assumptions (for the correct answers) which may be different from those used by the students when they answer the questions. The test questions (from the stem to the response options) may not be properly understood by the students for one reason or another (either student or teacher factor). Except perhaps for nomenclature, practically all information used in the response options are inexact or defy absoluteness in correct answers.
All teachers or facilitators of learning should have the benefits and limitations in mind when they administer an educational test. Likewise, all learners or students should also have the benefits and limitations in mind they take an educational test. Armed with this awareness, both should not let the limitations cancel out the benefits of an educational test. Both should focus on maximizing the benefits that can be gotten from a test, particularly the learning benefits. After the test, there should be opportunities for feedback and interactions between the teachers and the students, not only to clarify things but also to reinforce, if not to acquire more learnings.
As I write and share my thoughts, perceptions, opinions and recommendations (TPORs) above, I have in mind you as trainers and educators like me, now and in the near future. All trainers and educators should have a proper mindset on benefits and limitations of an educational test and how to maximize the benefits and minimize the limitations. The OLETE that I am advocating is aligned to this so-called proper mindset.
Allow me to repeat what I said regarding OLETE in my email carrying the title: OLETE as an Educational Strategy:
Basically, OLETE is an online test and/or exercise that has for its objectives the simultaneous promotion of learning and evaluation of the learners or students. Between the two objectives, promotion of learning is intended to be more important in my design for the OLETE. The evaluation is intended to be more of a self-evaluation of the student to reinforce his learning. Although the teacher-facilitator can use the OLETE to evaluate the pretest competency status (as will be reflected in the first attempt) and achievement in the subsequent attempts of the students, it is not the intention in the design of the OLETE to identify which students to flank or which to recognize. The goal is that all the students get the perfect score at the end of the OLETE which in turn assumes that they all have achieved the learning objectives using the test and/or exercise as the evaluation tool.
After the OLETE that we had in the National Training on Safe Hospital, I will be giving opportunities for feedback and interactions between you the students and me, the facilitator, not only to clarify things but also to reinforce, if not to acquire more learnings. I will be accomplishing these through the next subtopics (The Test Blueprint and Test Items Analysis and Discussions).
Can I have feedback and comments from the group on my TPORs? Remember our group is an Online Collaborative and Interactive Learning Group (OCIL)? Thank you. Dr Rey