Another dot in the blogosphere?

Test only what you teach?

Posted on: September 18, 2018

I experienced something recently that reminded me how fallible basic instructional design (ID) is.

There is an agency that requires its potential hires to take one module and quiz as part of its selection process. Some organisations opt to do this and this might be helpful if they are selecting for quiz-smart hires.

But the issue is not about the predictive reliability of this move. I discovered that one page out of the reading material was missing, and as a result, two out of the ten quiz questions were unanswerable without some Googling.

Perhaps the test was about dealing with the unexpected. But that should not be an excuse for poor instructional design, specifically, constructive alignment. One basic element of ID is this: You cannot test what you do not teach.

What ID — and much of conventional teaching — struggles to handle is how we cannot deliver all the information a learner needs nor can we test every eventuality.

We cannot even guarantee something adequate because the standards shift and the goalposts move constantly and often unpredictably.

So we have to teach learners how to think. I do not know of anyone in ID who can claim that the classical approach (of testing only what you teach) can adequately do this.

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