Upgrading the Dog-House…NOT your typical tests

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In this day an age, the term testing and education seem to go hand-in-hand, in a not so nice way. All of the students in today’s public schools have never gone a year without some form of standardized testing, whether it is practice or actual testing. However, testing has a different connotation when it comes to instructional design. In the ADDIE model, the development phase requires testing….pilot-testing.

Pilot-testing is often associated with experiments in the world of science and engineering, however, they hold great significance in instructional design. Why is it so important you ask? Well, “Pilot testing is a chance to evaluate a project before it goes into full implementation and is a key component of the development stage” (Hodell, 2011). There are some hiccups that are associated with pilot-testing because you may not always have the ideal audience, or the target audience. However, you can address a number of questions, which help to improve the success of the training in the long run. Here are some questions that can/will be addressed by pilot-testing:

    • Does the lesson plan work?
    • Are the directions to the facilitator clear and concise?
    • Are the facilitator’s materials appropriate and thorough enough?
    • Are the learner’s materials appropriate and thorough enough?
    • Are the support materials (slides, overheads, handouts, and the like) what you expected?
    • Does the timing of each of the segments match your estimates?
    • Are the technology components (audio, video, computers, and so forth) appropriate?
    • Do the instructional methods work as planned?
    • What does not work they way you thought it should?
    • What needs to be changed?

(Hodell, 2011).

What other types of questions might you ask and/or address through the use of pilot-testing?

Feedback, both positive and negative can help the instructional designer evaluate all aspects of the training. This article helps to point out the importance of pilot-testing, problems encountered in pilot-testing and why the data collected from them is still considered informal. Think back to the last blog post about the difference between formal and informal evaluation. The same principle applies here. The informal data gathered from a pilot-test helps to inform the instructional designer about what works and doesn’t work. Much like a recipe. You wouldn’t publish a recipe in a mass-produced cookbook without trying it out a few times.

Happy cooking!



Hodell, C. (2011). ISD From the Ground Up (3rd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.


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