Certainty Based Marking and how it improves employee training

E-learning October 11 2017

iStock-465832263.jpgHave you ever been uncertain of an answer for a multiple-choice test question, so guessed and got it right? It’s almost certain that you have – and therein lies the problem with traditional multiple-choice assessment. The learner’s knowledge appears to be sufficient for them to move on to a new area for learning, even though it’s not.

Certainty Based Marking, which we’ve introduced as part of the learning drills and assessments on the Wranx platform, overcomes precisely this problem. Not only must learners indicate which possible answer they think is correct, they must also indicate how certain they are that their chosen answer is correct. So, for example, with three levels of certainty offered – high, medium and low– this makes it possible to make the following conclusions:

  • Correct answer, high certainty – the learner is sufficiently knowledgeable and confidently so
  • Correct answer, medium certainty – the learner’s knowledge needs some reinforcement
  • Correct answer, low certainty – the learner lacks knowledge and needs continued teaching
  • Incorrect answer, low certainty – the learner lacks knowledge and needs continued teaching
  • Incorrect answer, medium certainty – the learner lacks knowledge and needs continued teaching, but believes they may be correct
  • Incorrect answer, high certainty – the learner lacks knowledge and needs continued teaching, but believes they are correct

You can find out more about this hot topic in our 'At a glance' guide here.

As you can imagine, this final bullet has the potential to be potentially costly or even dangerous for an organisation. Imagine a trader or a chemical worker convinced of incorrect information. This goes to show how valuable Certainty Based Marking can be. Incorrect knowledge can be identified and addressed so that organisations can have peace-of-mind that workforce knowledge is at the level required.

The benefits of Certainty Based Marking don’t stop there, though. It also encourages employees to give more thought to how reliable their knowledge is, helps them to understand underlying issues rather than just to react to a question and promotes lateral thinking as means of validating or questioning an answer.

To encourage honesty from learners, Certainty Based Marking gives higher marks for more confident correct answers. For the least confident incorrect answers, you won't be penalised. The Wranx platform uses the standard CBM scoring scale for assessments:

  • Correct answer, high certainty: 3 points
  • Correct answer, medium certainty: 2 points
  • Correct answer, low certainty: 1 points
  • Incorrect answer, low certainty: 0 points
  • Incorrect answer, medium certainty: –2 points
  • Incorrect answer, high certainty: -6 points

This approach means learners are less likely to risk losing marks if they’re uncertain. As a result, organisations can be more confident that they are getting an accurate reflection of a learner’s knowledge than they might otherwise. In addition, careful thinkers who have not typically been very confident can gain in confidence and marking is fairer by awarding more considered responses higher marks.

Fundamentally, Certainty Based Marking offers a more safeguarded approach to employee learning for organisations. It helps employees to learn in a more comprehensive and rounded way – and thus workforces to become more highly and broadly skilled. 

Certainty Based Marking