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Vol. 3, No. 9       July 12, 2007    

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Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.
One Cielo Vista Place
Monterey, CA 93940
Phone: 831.649.8384

Voicemail: 800.650.SINK (7465)
Fax: 831.649.3914
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Today's Tip
Criterion-Referenced Checklists: The Workhorse of Evaluation

Dr. Darryl SinkDSA would like to thank Dr. Barbara Martin for contributing this tip on Criterion-Referenced Checklists. Dr. Martin will be teaching more about this subject at DSA’s The Criterion Referenced Testing Workshop in San Francisco, September 25-26.

What if I told you there was an instructional design (ID) tool that was so versatile that it could be used, with minor modifications, throughout the entire ID process to create good instruction? You’d use it, right? It exists and is a criterion-referenced checklist.

Look below at the portion of the checklist for creating good multiple-choice test items.

Portion of a checklist for a multiple choice test items
Yes
No
1.
Does the stem include a complete thought?    
2.
Is the item free of cues?    
3.
Are all the response choices plausible?    
4.
Are the distractors arranged in a logical order?    
5.
Are all response choices of the same approximate length?    
6.
Is there only one correct answer?    

The obvious and most likely use of this checklist is to evaluate whether or not learners have developed multiple choice test items that meet the quality standards specified in the checklist. However, having a checklist allows you to accomplish many other aspects of the ID process. In the example above if you consider that “creating multiple choice test items” is the final or terminal objective, here are some ways you can adapt the checklist:

  • The skills stated in the checklist can be used to develop a needs assessment survey since the listed skills are prerequisites to the final objective.
  • The elements in a checklist become the enabling skills for the final/terminal skill so in essence you have begun to develop a task analysis. From these, you can write learning objectives too.
  • The checklist can also be used to guide the instructional process. Each skill listed must be taught in order for the learner to become proficient. Use the checklist to make sure nothing is left out during instruction.
  • The learner can use the checklist as a self-check or even as a job aid during instruction.
  • When the learner is back on-the-job, the checklist can be used as a prompt for doing the job correctly, it can be used to evaluate transfer of training when used by a supervisor or manager, and it can be used to determine what, if any, skills need to be included in remediation training.

There are basically two categories of skills that require checklists. These skills always have multiple components.

  • Skills that require the learner to produce a tangible object or project with multiple parts require a product checklist. Examples of objects or products that you might ask learners to produce include a blueprint, a workplace action plan, an instructional unit or test, or a device or gadget.
  • Skills that require the learner to demonstrate actions require a performance checklists. Examples of actions include making a telephone sales call, performing CPR, making chocolate chip cookies, and teaching a class.

In order to design a checklist the instructional designer must make a list of all the components of a task, put the items in a logical order, and include an evaluation scale to measure the adequacy of the learner’s response. One of the easiest ways to make a checklist is to start with a product or performance that you have already evaluated as excellent or acceptable and work from it.

There you have the checklist – an ID workhorse – and one of the most versatile tools in the instructional designer’s repertoire! Once you start using them you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. You will find other uses for checklists too. Plus learners appreciate the organization and structure that a checklist brings. Try writing one for your next instructional unit, then sit back and revel in the benefits.

Until next time,

Darryl

Dr. Peter HonebeinP.S. Dr. Barbara Martin is an active DSA associate and teaches The Instructional Developer Workshop, The Course Developer Workshop, and The Criterion Referenced Testing Workshop. She has written many articles and an award winning book on the designing instruction for affective behaviors.

Article 2007 Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.

Learning and Performance Tips

Welcome to Learning and Performance Tips
, a DSA newsletter for Instructional Designers and Performance Consultants. Each issue will include at least one proven tip to help you get the most out of your development and consulting efforts.

Did you miss out on a past issue? For access to all tips newsletters, send your top "Tip" to jane@dsink.com.

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Copyright, Darryl L. Sink & Associates, Inc.
Monterey, California

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