Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Publications

Campus Units

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Document Type


Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Journal of Safety, Health & Environmental Research





First Page


Last Page


Research Focus Area(s)

Occupational Safety Engineering


Safety training is an integral part of every organization's overall safety program. A variety of delivery methods are used to conduct training with the most common learning outcome being performance on a written exam. The safety professional must consider numerous issues when composing a written exam, including question design and exam difficulty, to establish a meaningful passing level and to assess overall training effectiveness. A research study was undertaken to further explore issues related to question design and exam difficulty relative to a chemical safety course offered in both classroom- and computer-based formats on a college campus. The objectives of this study were to 1) evaluate the potential impact of question difficulty as a part of an assessment technique that measures learning and 2) evaluate the potential impact of exam difficulty and sequence of exam administration as a part of an assessment technique that measures learning. An analysis of question difficulty factors across three different versions of learning assessments used showed differing levels of difficulty. Additionally, the order of administration of the exam was a factor in the amount of measured learning. The implications of these results are discussed. Nuances of assessment techniques, including question difficulty and order of administration, must be evaluated to truly evaluate the effectiveness of any safety training intervention.


This article is from Journal of Safety, Health & Environmental Research 9 (2013): 89–93. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

American Society of Safety Engineers



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