Successful performance-based testing for IT skills

By implementing performance-based testing, organisations can ensure that their programmes produce better results and higher standards

Corey Hynes
By Corey Hynes on 30 April 2021
Successful performance-based testing for IT skills

Performance-based testing (PBT) is a game changer for skills validation programmes. Moving from traditional multiple-choice questions to performing tasks in real environments will not only increase the value and effectiveness of your programme but produce better overall results with a higher standard for success.

These five concepts drive success for PBT.

1. Incorporate it into your training programme
PBT is a challenge-centric, scored lab that should be used throughout the training arc, from skills acquisition to validation, to ensure that all phases of learning are consistent and incorporate the same methods of skills validation.

Before training, consider assessing your learners’ for a baseline by letting them try new skills to determine the training they need. Then, during training, implement, hands-on exercises that are goal-oriented to measure skills developed. After the training, capstone with scored labs, which test your learners’ skills through experiential learning.

Exam preparation should include scored labs in practice tests so learners gain familiarity with the testing environment. For the exam itself, use industry-leading exam providers to certify the skills your learners have acquired and validated.

2. Prepare your test takers
Provide samples, videos and instructions to help learners understand the test will now be using a real environment. Incorporating scored labs as part of your training and practice tests will go a long way in this preparation. 

3. Limit your delivery scope in early phases
There are several physical and topical considerations for your delivery. PBT requires reliable internet connections for test takers, and you should vet testing systems prior to delivering an exam. Working with an experienced exam delivery partner can help mitigate this risk.

Avoid topics that are experiencing rapid change or are not mature. Scoring scripts, code and logic must be reliable and predictable, and must evaluate as a true or false statement. 

4. Have a backup 
PBT relies on factors outside the test taker’s system. As much as you don’t want to think about it, these dependencies will cause individual exams to not function from time to time. Treat PBT as the preferred but not the sole testing solution and have a Plan B ready to deploy. 

5. Take time to build reusable environments
If PBT is pervasive within your training, you can reuse your work, with the same environment used for training, assessments, validation and exams. Investing time and resources in their creation will result in high-performing environments that are reliable and easy to customise. On top of that, creating similarities in environments can help ease learners’ stress.   

Corey Hynes is CEO of Learn on Demand Systems

Find out more about performance-based testing

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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