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Helping learners choose the wrong answer

When the brief calls for quick turn-around, self-paced, instructor/facilitator-free – despite the question type and a well thought out scenario with great feedback – most learners are going to focus on what they’ve been taught to target since they started their educational careers: choosing the RIGHT answer.

However, there are plenty of instances when choosing the WRONG answer and the OKAY BUT COULD BE BETTER answer and/or executing the RIGHT answer poorly leads to deeper and profound learning. Ever made a mistake and gotten chewed out by a manager or client? Ever made that mistake again (or made that mistake in the exact same way)?

I am currently working on a project where my brief was just as described in the first sentence: “we want it fast, low cost, self-paced and there will be no course facilitator”.

There are going to be quizzes. However, I’m working to help the project team understand that all questions and feedback should be designed to help learners APPLY knowledge rather than test that they’ve read all the documents. And in the case of the major learning points – I’ve decided to help our learners choose the wrong answer.

First of all, I’ve created a template that takes pass/fail and percentages out of the equation and created a learning object that they need to complete. The learners are presented with a scenario and instructed to choose ALL the answers in turn. As they follow each answer they get taken down a path of:

  1. immediate outcome of choice
  2. reason for this result and
  3. how to deal with the fallout or other traps to avoid.

It took me around 90 minutes to plan and create a sample using a mind mapping tool called FreeMind to plan it, Microsoft PowerPoint to create the initial scenes and Articulate Storyline to create the paths and programming for the learning object.

I am not going to be able to do this for ALL the learning tasks involved as we have a tight deadline. But if I can do it for some of the more important learning points AND help the others on the team understand that questions for adult learners should help them to apply knowledge rather than memorise data – I believe we can still create an authentic, engaging learning experience.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use PowerPoint and Articulate Storyline to develop interactive learning objects and scenario-based learning, send an email to


“Fail  Road” CC (by) Dagny Mol

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