Date last updated: Tuesday, January 8, 14:55 PST

The Rehab Training Center
with Jeffrey Lindsey

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Why 'test' is a 4-letter word

To me, and many others, test is a four-letter word. So often, we see a test as a means to pass or fail someone from a class. However, is this the right way to use a test?

In my opinion, the answer should be a resounding no. When was the last time you saw a patch on someone's arm bearing a test score? You do not. Therefore, why do we test?

A test, or as I like to call them, an assessment, should be used not as means to identify the retention of what someone knows from the material that was discussed in a class. Rather, it should be used as a means to determine the weakness of personnel on certain topics — an indicator that the student was not proficient on the material.

So often we here from students that the test question was unfair or multiple answers could have been correct. A failed test does not always reflect on the student; it may reflect on the instructor. Maybe the material was not adequately covered or the student did not actually grasp the material covered.

A different approach
This month, take a different approach to your rehab training. Instead of teaching, what you think the students or personnel in your department need to know, provide an assessment to evaluate those areas you need to provide strength. Develop a 25- to 50-question assessment on rehab to identify those areas you need to address.

You may find that their weakness are diverse. Some students may be weak in one area while others may be weak in other topics of rehab. Practicing this type of education becomes more challenging to the instructor, but provides customized education to those who provide rehab for our personnel.

Test taking is challenging; test development is even more challenging. However, it really matter that we capture the weakness of our students. This allows instructors to hone their message to the topic the student has demonstrated weakness and needs help.

In addition, the other benefit you have by doing assessment-based training is you focus on the topics that personnel need or want to learn more about. So often the training we conduct is a one size fit all class rather than a class that tailors the training to the needs of the student.

This is my challenge to you. Winter is a great time to take a moment to reassess your personnel and strengthen those in your department.

Dr. Lindsey is the coordinator/lecturer for the University of Florida Fire and Emergency Service degree program. He serves as the chief learning officer for Health Safety Institute. He retired from the fire service as chief of Estero (Fla.) Fire Rescue. Dr. Lindsey earned his doctorate and master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from USF. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fire and safety engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He also has earned his chief fire officer designation and is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program. He was the 2011 recipient of the James O Page Leadership Award from IAFC. You can contact Jeffrey at

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