Design principle 5:

Assessment-based learning: incorporate the information to remember into the answer

Drills are assessment-based: people learn by answering questions and remembering the associated feedback. Make sure you incorporate the message people need to retain in the answers. Try to avoid yes/no questions and true/false questions as much as possible. Check below to find out how it’s done!


Yes/no questions, we’re all familiar with them. Additionally, we have all seen true/false questions, ‘which is incorrect’ questions, and questions with statements, all of which are commonly used. However, these are not the ideal way to supply someone with the information they need to remember. So what’s our advice?


Assessment-based learning means that people take in information by answering questions, not by going through large sections of text, but by actively processing information. To make this happen, incorporate the message people need to retain in the answer options. Avoid yes/no questions and true/false questions, as people will then not remember what is true or why it is true. Luckily, you, as an instructional designer, are in a position to help people learn as efficiently as possible by presenting the important information as an answer option. If this all sounds a bit too abstract for you, take a look at the example below!


When you use a question about what people should not do in a certain situation, you run the risk of producing an unwanted learning effect, because the brain will still store this incorrect information somewhere. And then, when the moment comes that someone has to make a decision as to what to do, their brain might just retrieve that incorrect information and they might consequently do the wrong thing. They may then do what they should not do, instead of what they should do. Here’s an example of what we mean.


In this question, the information to be remembered is fully reflected in the answer: ’30 breast compressions’.

This yes/no question is not ideal for transferring knowledge. Try to avoid this as much as possible.

The attentive reader sees that we secretly give examples of how not to do it ourselves… unfortunately, we could not avoid it. Hopefully, this will make it clearer what you have to do!

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