Working on program evaluations with vulnerable communities for the Federal Government of Canada gave me a great opportunity to look at how assessing learning can not only be (almost) pain-free but fun, engaging, and motivating.
Last week I shared the first five tips on assessing learning that prevent migraines and bring on magical motivation Here is part two with the next batch of five tips.
6. Engaging and fun
Learning assessment can and should be engaging and fun. There are very few humans on the planet that get excited about assessments, so making learning assessment engaging and fun is good for your participants and for your response rate.
Example: I have an online workshop survey I give to participants, and to make it engaging and fun, it has a quirky title (Beef and Bouquet Workshop Survey. It raises curiosity by stating in the instructions that participants will get access to a fun little surprise immediately after filling it in.
That fun little surprise is a quirky quick video of me saying thank you.
Another example is I’ve been known to do program evaluation using t-shirts, storytelling, comic books, quilting, and scrapbooking. They’re all fun tools that help tell the story of the learning and are a hit with participants (especially as they choose the method).
Assessing learning should be a collaborative two-way street. Participants should get something in exchange for giving you data (even if it’s something as simple as a link to a fun, little video).
Example: The same data you get from an assessment can tell a million stories depending on whose eyes are looking at it. Different themes and patterns will emerge based on who’s doing the analysis. Therefore I give clients the option of collaborative data analysis. I do a simple, quick, fun training on data analysis and then give the data to the group to help analyze.
Important caveat: care must be taken with sharing the data based on how you’ve set up participant’s expectations for what will be done with their responses. I promise anonymity. So before sharing the raw data, I’ll scan it to remove any identifying information.
People are busy these days, and getting them to share their opinions, thoughts, and analysis is incredibly valuable. Therefore I always try to show my appreciation for their input.
Your appreciation will depend on the nature of your participants. For some, it might include childcare (so busy, single moms can relax and participate without worrying), gift certificates, etc. The only limit is your imagination.
Example: Remember me mentioning the evaluation training I took with Michael Quinn Patton ? One thing I’ll never forget was his example of doing a focus group with sex trade workers. To show his appreciation for their input, he had them sit in a circle in big, comfortable chairs and receive a manicure while participating.
Again, given how busy and preoccupied we humans are, it’s helpful to set up your learning assessment to motivate participants. You can do this by raising their curiosity, creating a competition, stating you have a surprise for them after they fill in the survey form, etc.
Gamification, where you apply the principles of what makes online gaming so popular to learning, is a fabulous practice to apply to learning assessment.
Think of different ways you can add gamification to your own learning assessment. One way is to add hidden easter eggs in your content that you then get participants to go back and look for.
Another example: I’ve made a virtual escape room as a part of a learning assessment. Check it out here and have fun trying to ‘escape.’
Voila, learning AND assessment.
Assessing learning can certainly create migraines, but it doesn’t have to. Use the five principles in the last post K.I.S.S. (keep it super simple) and create some simple goals for the assessment, veto asking questions at the beginning so you can focus on what you want to find out first, brainstorm a full list of your stakeholders and strategically decide who to involve and make the assessment learning focused.
Add to that the five principles in this post: make your assessments fun and engaging, make them collaborative where you appreciate those giving you the data, and motivate them, in part using gamification, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Now go on and learn, laugh and lead
- Use my example of a virtual escape room to create your own escape room, modeled on your own content.
- Learning is everywhere (and so then are the chances to assess it)!
- Share the tips with your team and use them for your next assessment of learning
P.S. Want to receive invitations to my monthly Learning and Development Roundtables where we explore learning in all its glorious shapes and sizes? Easy peasy. Sign up here.