How to create strong assessment questions for incarcerated learners
Updated: Jul 20
As every course and learning objective is unique, different assessments can be used to determine whether or not a learner achieved the learning objectives and reached the desired goals. In some cases, an assessment may not even be necessary! Perhaps you leave learners with an inspiring message or tips for how to implement what they’ve learned in their everyday lives.
If you choose to create an assessment, keep in mind that the more diversity you bring, the better! Using different types of questions creates opportunities for all learners to express their knowledge. Below are samples of different types of assessment questions that could be combined to create a final assessment.
As you write your assessment questions, make sure they align to the course objectives. You can learn more about writing course objectives here.
Multiple Choice Questions
Develop responses that are substantively distinct from one another. Answers in a multiple choice question that are too similar do not provide a respondent with a clear choice. Such questions can end up testing their ability to make distinctions in spelling or definition instead of making important discerning choices among crucial concepts.
Develop “incorrect” responses that are potentially plausible but clearly wrong. Even your most knowledgeable learners should not find the correct answer extremely obvious; respondents should be presented with a selection of answers that they must consider carefully.
Make the multiple-choice question text longer than the text of the answers. The majority of information should be in the question, not the answers. Participants should not be overwhelmed with words when attempting to answer the question correctly.
Why do companies use SWOT analysis frequently?
To make strategic decisions about new products and/or service offerings.
To identify things that you have some control over and can change.
To find strengths and weaknesses are internal to your company.
All of the above
Ask yourself the following questions about the SWOT chart you made:
How often do I set goals based on factors within my control?
Which factors were difficult to categorize (e.g., unsure as to whether something should have been placed in the “strengths“ quadrant vs. the “opportunities” quadrant)?
How do my personal strengths compliment my personal weaknesses?
How do my professional opportunities help to mitigate my professional threats?
Open-Ended / Essay Questions
Create questions that are specific enough so that participants clearly understand the scope of the question. Example: “Explain how building your own business can help you be successful.” This question is overly broad. Participants might wonder whether “success” refers to financial, professional, with their family, or a hundred other ways one can be professional.
Instead, try a more specific prompt such as, “List and explain 3 reasons why starting your own business will help you become a better business person.” This question specifically asks learners to address the professional skills they will acquire: all of which were covered in the course.
Example: Using your basic understanding of the SWOT matrix, imagine yourself as a business or brand. Then, decide on two different personal goals or objectives you would like to examine and prepare a SWOT analysis for them.
Example: List at least 5-7 skills and tools used by Entrepreneurs when they start their first business.
A scenario-based question presents a short study and then poses questions based on the information available in the case study. Scenario-based questions require participants to apply discrete facts or bits of knowledge to a situation they will likely encounter.
Example: Consider the following scenario: Francisco created his SWOT analysis and determined that his idea for a new business was solid. He went to propose the concept to a bank and was immediately rejected. What should Francisco’s next step be? Why?
True / False Questions
Construct questions that are simply worded, to the point, and unambiguous. Simple sentences are straightforward and have fewer words than more complex, multi phrase sentences. Vocabulary that can be interpreted in different ways makes it much more difficult for respondents to answer.
For example, the prompt, “True or false? There are many ways a person can become an entrepreneur” uses a word (many) that can be interpreted in perhaps ten different ways. A better question would be one that focused on a single mode of transmission such as, “True or false? An individual can become an entrepreneur by developing a strategic business plan”.
Avoid conjunctions such as “and,” “but,” “except,” and “or.” These words imply a second idea or concept and can be confusing when respondents are answering True/False questions.
Example: “True or false? Using a SWOT analysis can help you start your business but only if you start with the Strength category.” Although the question appears to be true, the “but” provides too much potential for ambiguity and room for confusion in the respondent.