14 Tips for Crafting Fantastic Questions for Your E-Learning Modules
Good questions help determine a learner’s true understanding of the topic, skills, and knowledge covered in an e-learning course. Good questions are also educational, plus, depending on the question and the topic, they can challenge traditional practices and encourage lateral thinking.
Good questions don’t happen by accident, however. The following 14 tips will help you craft great questions for your e-learning course.
1. Make sure the question has a real purpose
Questions that make up the numbers don’t add any value to the learning experience, they don’t improve outcomes, and they do nothing for return on investment. Therefore, make sure there is a purpose to the question.
This includes crafting e-learning questions that assist learning or that truly test knowledge and its application.
2. Ensure the question is relevant to the topic
While this appears obvious, it is not unusual for e-learning courses to include questions that may have been touched on in the course content, but which are not directly relevant to the course topic or your objectives for the course.
3. Ensure the question is relevant to the learner
Questions that are relevant to the learner’s day-to-day experience and/or job role will be much more beneficial to both the learner and to your business.
4. Write questions that are clear using everyday language
Use clear and easy to understand language in your e-learning questions without any ambiguity or vagueness. You should also avoid cultural references related to Dubai or elsewhere as they may not be understood by everyone. Avoid slang terms too.
Also, it is almost always best to avoid humour as something that is funny to one person can be silly to another and may even be offensive to someone else
5. Get to the point
Make your e-learning questions are as concise as possible while keeping them clear.
6. Don’t use negatives in your questions
An example of using a negative in a question is: “which the following is NOT an example of…”
Questions like these can be confusing to learners, so you should avoid them.
7. Guide the Learner
The way you write the question should help the learner find the answer. This is particularly important for complex questions and/or topics.
Remember the learner has just been introduced to the information, knowledge, or skill. You shouldn’t give them the answer but pointing them in the general direction prevents frustration and further facilitates learning.
8. Encourage active thinking
Don’t ask obvious or really simple questions as they don’t add value and can be perceived as being patronising. The best questions are those that make learners think.
9. Focus your question on one thing
Don’t try to cover a range of information points in a single question, testing for them all. This will make the question confusing and it doesn’t tell you or the learner what part of the question they did or did not understand.
If a question does contain multiple information points, split it into multiple questions.
10. Check spelling and grammar
Ensure you use correct spelling and grammar as well as the correct terminology.
11. Focus on multiple choice-answers too
Take as much care with potential answers in multiple-choice questions as you do with writing the question itself.
Many of the above points apply when writing answers, including making sure you avoid patronising learners. Furthermore, each potential answer should also be given equal weight in terms of detail, length, and language used, i.e. try to avoid a situation where the learner can guess the answer because it looks like it is the one you have put the most effort into writing.
12. Avoid 50/50 questions
Try as much as possible to avoid 50/50 questions. This is because learners who guess have a 50 percent chance of being right even if the question itself follows all the best practice guidelines on this list.
13. Focus on the application of knowledge, not just knowledge
The questions you write for an e-learning module should focus on what you want learners to do rather than the knowledge you want them to have.
So, instead of asking the learner about a fact, ask them how they would apply that fact in a particular situation. The following is a simple example that would probably fall foul of the point above that says to avoid being patronising. However, it helps illustrate this tip.
- A question in management or compliance training could be something like: “Is it ever justified to bully a colleague or member of your team?”
- A better question would be: “what impact does bullying have on the workplace – select all that apply”
The first is a simple yes/no/sometimes question. The second option should have four or five outcomes that result from workplace interactions, including some that occur in situations of bullying.
Using the second option, the learner has to think a lot more, plus it can help them learn.
14. Be careful not to give away answers to other questions
Try to avoid giving the answer to a different question, i.e. avoid situations where the learner answers a question then a few questions later reads the correct answer in a different question so goes back to change the answer in the original question.
You can do this by carefully writing and thinking about your e-learning course from the perspective of learners. An alternative is to prevent learners from changing their answers and then ordering your questions to minimise unnecessary hints
To conclude, here is a bonus tip on writing questions that you might find useful: try writing your questions before you start preparing any content.
Doing this ensures your questions align with the objectives of the course. After all, it’s easy to become distracted by content when so much of your focus is on it, with questions left to the end.