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May 2019

Great test design depends on a shared understanding of competence.

Competence: It’s All About Context!

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Great test design for performance-based exams depends on a shared understanding of competence.

Competence is doing meaningful work to standard under normal conditions. Agreeing on what is normal is where the hang up is. Normal assumes agreement on the uniformity and diversity of both work tasks and the workplace environment. People with the same job title may or may not do the same tasks even in the same company. They certainly do not share the same workplace environment if they work in different locations or for different bosses.

Rob Foshay, Ph.D. et.al, in their research on emerging best practices in the private sector discusses the rising interest in performance-based tests to measure competence. Part of that interest is fueled by the evidence that performance-based tests have higher fidelity (they more fully reflect the workplace environment) and; therefore, can demonstrate greater external integrity (passing correlates with something important to the organization). For example, is there a correlation between the number of people who pass the test and those who do well on the job, stay in the job longer, or have fewer cost overruns or missed deadlines?

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Get ready for performance-based certification

Get Ready for Performance-Based Certification: 5 Team Training Tips

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What a waste of time…  

If you’ve ever uttered the phrase after attending an employee training program, you’re not alone. Despite U.S. companies continually spending more money on training, 75 percent of respondents surveyed by McKinsey & Co. indicated such efforts did not improve employee performance.

The primary culprit? Marathon learning sessions that overload team members with information that is never revisited.

“Decades of research on knowledge retention has proven that fire-hose training events deliver astonishingly bad results,” says Forbes contributor Stephen J. Meyer. “The human brain simply wasn’t designed to learn this way.”

Obviously, software and platform certification managers aren’t designing typical employee training programs. However, they are responsible for educating team members on how these certifications fit into “the bigger picture.”

If you’re in the process of transitioning to performance-based certification (PBC), it’s imperative that you approach team member training with the same level of care as the exam development process. Your program’s ultimate success will directly correlate with how much key stakeholders understand its value.

Organizational leadership, team members and channel partners alike should feel comfortable articulating why PBC enhances the capabilities of platform users, how it works from a technological standpoint and how the exam benefits everyone involved.

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Multiple Choice Question Exams

Why PBA Is Better Than Multiple Choice Question Exams for Software and Platform Certification

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How knowledgeable are you when it comes to MCQ exams?

Would you win a round at trivia night, answering the following?

True or false:

  • The longest answer on an exam is usually the correct one.
  • Exam answers hardly ever repeat consecutively.
  • The answers “none of the above” and “all of the above” are correct responses on multiple choice question exams 52% of the time.

If you answered “true” for all of the above, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for being a big nerd! Regardless of your score, read on to learn why performance-based assessment excels where MCQ fails.

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