I cringe at the thought of my dreaded experiences as a youth with standardized Scantron Tests and the small answer bubbles. I always felt I had to perfectly mark them or else worry about getting counted wrong or illegible by the scoring robots. The order to “put down your pencils” once a test session expired was always an emotional catharsis and somewhat of an annoyance.
As an adult, though, I look at tests in an entirely different light. They stay in check and in tune with my work and profession. From my experience working with critical professional education programs, I see most adult learners value testing as a key component in their development. And associations can successfully offer those programs to learners amid formidable competition from for-profit and other entities.
Of course, the aesthetics and user experience for testing nowadays are much better than bubble charts. There’s also the fact we can use our preferred devices to take the tests, not just No. 2 pencils. That’s progress.
So, let’s explore some real examples of how leading organizations are creatively using testing and assessments to deliver professional education to their members and learners.
American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT).
Objective. Students are groomed for a critical watershed moment to formalize their professions, which typically takes two years of preparation, by offering practice for the Capstone Exam.
- Practice for the real deal
- Student-friendly model
- Invites a new audience (students) to membership
Success. ASRT is a leading organization for the radiologic technologist profession, and a YourMembership client. Recently, it launched the Radiology SEAL, a preparatory exam for students in the profession. The program features simulated exam questions (not the real ones to keep it safe) and feedback in the critical body of knowledge topic areas.
Taking the test provides analytical tools to help student learners find courses to target their weaknesses. It’s been such a success, ASRT is receiving student comments stating the exam is the key motivating factor for them to join the membership.
In the next iterations of the exam, ASRT makes use of more diagnostic tools offered by Crowd Wisdom, YM’s learning management system, to allow self-directed practice exam creation.
Globally-recognized business and marketing association.
Objective. Professionals endorse their skills with a certificate through the help of the association creatively sourcing content to prepare learners for the exam.
- Micro-credential exam
- Validate a skillset through a trusted, professional voice—their association
Success. Another YM client, this association for business and marketing professionals is partnering with an external content provider to supplement its offering, fast-tracking its speed to market. Learners land on a site promoting the program, with instructions about content and references to help them prepare. Once learners feel they have completed the prerequisite education, they take the online exam for certification.
High-profile healthcare board certification exam.
Objective. Refined by market research and learner feedback, this leading healthcare organization has delivered a new version of a flagship self-assessment product.
Success. In late 2016, another YM client, one of the most distinguished in healthcare, launched its newest version of a board exam self-assessment on YM’s testing platform. It found resounding success, enrolling more than 5,000 learners.
The feedback leading to the revision was from more than 70% of people who previously purchased the expensive exam to prepare for either the initial board certification or re-certification process. These consumers said they valued the ability to practice for the respective events with questions and integrated prescriptive content to treat gaps.
It’s known typical life events on top of normal, existing workloads and pressures of work create significant stress for doctors. The drill-and-practice offered by the self-assessment module, featuring a practice and simulated exam model, allows doctors to take control of their learning, while receiving detailed diagnostics on results down to topic area, along with remedial links to video content, documents and other references.
So, those were just a few examples how tests and assessment are embraced by organizations and their lifelong learning audiences.
Some of the key features these organizations leveraged from YM’s testing platform include:
- A self-assessment module and the “build your own exam” during study or simulated exam modes.
- Video-embedded quizzing for assessing learner comprehension and attention-in-viewing video.
- Section-based testing to allow scoring and performance at a component level of a test, not just a general score.
- Learning objectives to set goals for learner performance and tie them to questions.
- Mastery of a learning objective which requires meeting a score for the selected questions in the exam.
Ultimately, using these kinds of testing and assessment methods prove to be of high value and effective ways associations legitimately claim to serve their learners as trusted, authoritative voices.