Instructional design/User testing of e-learning courses/Steps of User Testing

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Back to Topic: Instructional Design > User Testing of E-Learning Courses > Conducting User Testing

When performing user testing, the following steps [1] provide a useful process to conducting a user test. Using these steps provides a uniform way to help ensure consistency in testing results. Whether the test is virtual, observed in the same room with the tester, or self-paced, each of these steps should be addressed, where applicable. For example, if the test is self-paced and you are not using an audio recording, there's no need to explain to the tester how to think out loud. Instead of explaining how to think out loud, explain to the tester they should write what they're think.

Steps to Conducting a User Test

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  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Describe the purpose of the observation and set the participant at ease.
  3. Tell the participant that it’s okay to quit at any time.
  4. Talk about the video equipment in the room (if applicable).
  5. Explain how to think out loud.
  6. Explain that you cannot provide help.
  7. Introduce the product.
  8. Ask if there are any questions before you start; then begin the observation.
  9. Describe the task. At this point, you or a volunteer will hand the task description documents (readme files, forms to fill out, etc., to the evaluators.)
  10. Conclude the observation.


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Below is a sample scenario of the ten steps.

Hi, my name's John Smith and I will be conducting this user test today in an observed user test. The purpose of this exercise is to test the usability of the 'Introduction to Psychomotor Behaviors' lesson and your attitudes about the lesson. What does this mean to you? I'd like you to go through the lesson, read the text, click on the links, take the activities and knowledge checks. Don't worry, the knowledge checks are not graded. Remember, this will help us evaluate how easy it is to use and navigate through the lesson, NOT you personally or how well you perform on the activities and knowledge checks. The activities and knowledge checks do not keep track of who you are so please, be as honest as possible. I encourage you to talk out loud and say what you're thinking, both the good and bad. If something is confusing, say it's confusing. If you like a particular scenario or the way the information is displayed, say that also. (Don't worry about the video equipment, it's to help me with my observation notes.) Since I'm conducting the test and the results are to test the usability of the lesson, I'm not able to help.

As you can see, the Wikiversity page that you will be testing is on your screen. It's a one page lesson with tables, images, and a knowledge check. As you're testing the lesson, please complete the evaluation forms either printed on your desk or on the computer. Be sure to write down what happens while you're testing, your thoughts and comments, screen prints, and anything else you would like known about the lesson.

Do you have any questions before you start? (Answer the questions if possible.) If there are no more questions, you can begin testing.'

If this were a self-paced user test, the same type of information is presented in an e-mail, applicable documents, and/or a conversation with the tester.

Before you get started on your own user test, read the evaluation tips in the next topic to assist in your evaluation.

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Click Next to learn some evaluation tips.

Back to Topic: Instructional Design > User Testing of E-Learning Courses > Conducting User Testing