Quite often the word 'test' sends adult learners running for cover. It conjures up so many bad experiences because people take a test personally and if they fail the test they believe it means they are a failure.
A valid test - let's change the wording to an assessment - is a useful tool to help you check what has been learned so far. However, for the assessment to be valid and robust, the learner driver has to be truly independent. As driving instructors, we need to keep quiet and recognise that, if we cannot do this, we need to stop the assessment and re-think our training because they were not ready to be assessed. It's worth bearing in mind that assessments can be simple and can also be used informally. You might say to your pupil, 'Have a go on your own'. If you do this, it is essential that you are measuring the performance against the goals set for the training session and not DVSA Test criteria. There is a time and place for that - consider whether a formal assessment is necessary.
1. Assess the skill - let them show what they have learnt independently.
2. Assess the knowledge - ask them to explain what they are doing and why they are doing it.
3. Practise in the real world - assessments should be challenging. This also helps examine any feelings they may have about the situation. If it is not challenging enough try to create a scenario.
When people are learning we, as trainers, need to assess their learning and understanding. This does not mean when we assess them they are being assessed against the DVSA test standard - it means they are being assessed against what they have learnt.
We are looking to transfer their learning from the short term memory into the longer term memory - this is the point of the recap at the beginning of the lesson to help the pupil recall the key points from the previous lesson that are relevant to today.
When creating an assessment remember these points:
1. The word test can often create tension and stress. Regular testing will help your learner cope with stressful situations and help them find strategies to cope. You can change the word test, to assess or let's find out what you have learned so far.
2. Testing is a natural part of learning, make your test fun and challenging.
3. Testing helps you judge your training and consolidates learning.
4. Giving feedback on the testing is essential, remember to get their feedback first.
5. Testing should happen frequently throughout the training to make sure that learning has taken place.
6. The test should give you and them an insight into their skill, their thinking and their feelings.
7. Have a checklist of what is being tested, as situations could arise that are not relevant to the learning that is being tested. You and the learner need to be clear on what is being tested. Tests need only last a few minutes.
8. Make sure that the person does not feel judged, they should feel engaged and be successful.
9. Testing is all about the learning that has taken place - it is not a straightforward pass or fail. Look for what went well, consider what didn't go so well and seek ways to make improvements.
10. In a straightforward way, testing whether the learner has learnt something tests your training.