Many of us progress through our careers with little official guidance. Unless you’re working with a coach, your next steps in professional development aren’t always clear.
Enter self-assessments. These tools show professionals where they need to improve their skills and what they need to learn. In this post, we’ll show you how learners at many associations rely on self-assessments for choosing a career path or course of study, preparing for a certification exam, or improving business practices and policies.
Why learners, employers, and associations love self-assessment tools and programs
Self-assessment tools are interactive. Learners review the material, answer questions, and receive feedback and links to related resources. An interactive exercise like this is a prime example of retrieval practice—the more often you retrieve and produce new information from your memory, the more likely it sticks with you for the long-term.
Learners stick with self-assessments because these self-paced exercises are easy to fit into a busy life. You can do as much as you want when you have the time.
Unless an employer has a learning and development (L&D) department, they’re not likely to offer self-assessments to employees. But your association can provide this valuable service. You can help employers identify skills gaps and the professional development programs that can help employees acquire or improve their skills.
For associations, self-assessments are a lead generation tool and a revenue-generating product. These tools help funnel prospective learners into learning pathways, professional development programs, and certificate programs. The data you collect from self-assessment tools helps you spot gaps in your own education portfolio.
Examples of association self-assessment tools and programs
Many of the self-assessment tools discovered in our research are offered by medical societies. But any association with professional development and credentialing programs could offer these tools. The examples here should inspire some self-assessment ideas for your association.
Educational self-assessment tools
Medical professionals who use the American Society of Echocardiography’s (ASE) self-assessment tool, echoCORE, review topics, key concepts, formulas, and the latest echocardiography advancements. This self-paced tool offers an interactive multiple-choice question-and-answer format. Users receive customized feedback to their answers, including a performance summary on each topic, with links to ASE guidelines, lectures, and journal articles.
The American College of Academic Addiction Medicine’s Self-Assessment Modules (SAMs) help physicians and medical professionals stay up to date on the latest developments in addiction medicine. Users have access to 85 SAMs with evidence-based articles and four questions per module that test their knowledge and skills. They receive immediate feedback upon completing the self-assessment and earn one CME unit for each completed SAM.
The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy’s self-assessment program is designed to increase the user’s knowledge and decision-making skills in ten areas of diagnostic and therapeutic gastroenterology and endoscopy. It offers 700+ case-based questions with detailed feedback and links to additional literature and studies. Users can study in the Learn mode (CME only) or Exam mode (CME + Maintenance of Certification/MOC combined).
Question of the week programs
The American Board of Pediatrics’ Question of the Week (QOW) program emails a case study, abstract with commentary, linked references, and a question to participants every week. MOC enrollment includes the QOW program. Users earn MOC points and CME credits for correct responses.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons’ Question of the Week program is a benefit of membership and helps to fulfill the self-assessment requirement of the American Board of Surgery’s Continuous Certification program.
Certification test preparation
Countless associations offer a certification practice test as a self-assessment. The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses has self-assessment examinations for two of their certifications. These pre-tests help users determine where they need to focus while preparing for one of AANN’s certification exams. The questions parallel the examination’s content outline. Users can take the assessment as many times as they’d like within one year of purchase.
Many associations offer accreditation programs for industry organizations, but that’s not the only option. The American Association for State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (STEPS) is a self-paced, self-assessment program for small- and mid-size history museums, historic societies, houses and sites, including those managed solely by volunteers.
The organizational self-assessment might be a familiar concept for associations with chapter self-assessment programs. In STEPS, a workbook guides the organization in assessing their policies and practices, benchmarking themselves against national museum standards, and creating a road map for improvements.
STEPS includes an online community and resources, such as sample plans and policies, as well as discount codes on the association’s professional development program. Organizations earn progress certificates as they move through the program.
How do people and organizations make time for lengthy self-assessment commitments like STEPS? Cohort programs help participants stay accountable. Five or more organizations participating in STEPS can form a group so they can learn from each other as they progress through the program. The association lists STEPS participants on their website, so participants can find neighboring organizations or join a virtual group.
What to consider when designing a self-assessment tool or program
Who’s your audience? The American Association for State and Local History’s STEPS is an entry-level program designed for small- and mid-sized history organizations. Although, the association says larger museums find the program useful as a refresher checklist and training tool for entry-level staff, volunteers, and interns.
Who designs the tool or program? The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy makes it clear that the members who designed their self-assessment program were carefully selected for their content expertise, teaching excellence, and neutrality on the topics being presented. The Society has rigorous requirements for disclosing conflicts of interests.
Credit or not? Some tools we described offered credit for completed modules, but some didn’t.
Free or paid? Most of our examples had a price, but the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM) includes the Self-Assessment Modules and certification practice test in some of their membership tiers.
Bundle? ACAAM offers 20% off their Self-Assessment Modules and Didactic Series Recordings when purchased together.
Promotional events? The American Association for State and Local History offers two webinars for STEPS, an introduction for organizations that are exploring the idea and an orientation for enrolled organizations.
Self-assessments steer learners toward the association resources and professional development programs they need to succeed in their career. They’re a valuable tool for learners and an evergreen source of revenue for your association.