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Branching scenarios help build real-world experience, but they also have the power to gauge employee progress and identify gaps. In this article, I’ll share 7 tips to use branching scenarios as eLearning assessment tools in your corporate eLearning program.
Qualitative assessments give employees the opportunity to display what they’ve learned in a real world setting instead of merely testing their theoretical knowledge. Branching scenarios are a perfect example. Corporate learners must venture down different decision-making paths to achieve the desired outcomes. They have to put their skills into practice and use all of the online training resources available to them to avoid negative repercussions. These 7 tips can help you assess employee performance using branching scenarios.
1. Identify Objectives And Desired Outcomes
The purpose of using branching scenarios as eLearning assessment tools is to determine whether employees have achieved the goals and bridged gaps. To do so, you must first identify your objectives and desired outcomes, as these will serve as a foundation for your branching scenario design. Conduct online evaluations, surveys, and on-the-job observations to identify areas for improvement. You should also create measurable goals that can be analyzed with a qualitative assessment. For example, displaying knowledge is better suited for quantitative exams. Thus, branching scenarios should be reserved for learning objectives that involve skill development and task performance.
2. Develop Criteria To Evaluate Performance
Based on your objectives and outcomes, create criteria that will help you evaluate employees’ performance during the branching scenario. For example, they must be able to apply their communication skills to identify the customer’s needs or resolve a co-worker conflict. You will test them using five different decision-making paths that tie into various aspects of this skill set. For instance, active listening or understanding body language. Criteria also allow you to grade employees based on specific indicators and then identify personal areas for improvement.
3. Create Focused Scenario Questions
Branching scenarios usually involve a series of questions, and each answer leads corporate learners down a different path. For example, one response brings them one step closer to the most beneficial outcome. However, the next might take them one step back and result in a less favorable outcome on the spectrum. It’s essential to create targeted questions that test a corporate learner’s skill or task mastery, as well as gauge their level of understanding of the topic. Avoid ambiguous language or tricky questions that may produce an inaccurate result. You might even consider using a rapid eLearning authoring tool with a built-in online asset library. Particularly one that contains question templates.
4. Use An eLearning Storyboard And Script To Stay On Track
eLearning storyboards help you map out the entire branching scenario assessment from start to finish, including each decision-making path and outcome. It’s also wise to use a script to keep track of your dialogue and characters. Both tools give you the power to carefully plan every path so that they accurately reflect real world repercussions. You can always use placeholders in the eLearning storyboard for resources that are still in development.
5. Mimic Real-World Emotions To Get More Accurate Results
Employees must be able to put themselves into the situation in order to test their reactions. How would they actually respond to a disgruntled customer in the real world? What would they do if a co-worker revealed that they violated COI compliance policies? Your branching scenario assessments need to capture real world emotions to get more accurate results. It’s not about merely going through the motions and providing responses that they know the company expects. They have to become emotionally invested in the branching scenario and become immersed in the dilemma. Use relatable challenges, realistic visuals, and audio elements to foster emotional connectivity. There is a caveat to using emotions, however. The key is balance it out and not place unnecessary stress on your employees. Don’t apply so much pressure that they feel overwhelmed by the online training experience or become frustrated.
6. Include Realistic Consequences To Enhance Immersion
Branching scenarios need to include some degree of risk, even if it doesn’t lead to real-world repercussions. For example, they know that they will lose a loyal customer if they don’t handle their compliant in a timely manner. Or that their sales figures will suffer when they fail to seal the deal during a product knowledge online simulation. Of course, the consequence that is at the forefront of their minds is failing the exam. However, they should also be able to tie the scenario consequences to real world applications. For instance, mishandling a disagreement between two co-workers results in a heated argument that spills out on the sales floor. The employee can then reflect on what might happen if this occurred in real life and the negative repercussions that would follow.
7. Provide Immediate Feedback And Resource Recommendations
No eLearning assessment is complete without immediate feedback and follow-up resources. If an employee is unable to pass the branching scenario assessment, tell them exactly why and how they can improve, by offering links to supplemental online training resources they may find beneficial. Even those who receive adequate scores should still have the opportunity to uncover their strengths and weaknesses. For instance, display a list of areas they need to focus on during their next online training session, or microlearning online training resources they can use to bridge the gaps. The secret is to offer personalized praise and feedback instead of merely offering a list of links at the end. You might also encourage peer-based evaluations to help pinpoint problem areas.
Branching scenarios are highly effective qualitative assessment tools that can help you gauge employee performance. However, you must have clear criteria in place and frame them with your core business goals and objectives. In addition, every element needs to mimic real world environments and emotions in order to test employees’ responses.
Are your branching scenarios getting a bit stale? Do you need to boost employee participation and motivation? Read the article 7 Unconventional Branching Scenario Ideas For Online Training to get 7 innovative, attention-grabbing ideas for using branching scenarios in online training.
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