Computer-Based Testing – No Fear of Failure Here


In Adult Literacy Education, fear of success is often discussed. But what does that really mean? What are people really afraid of? And how can that fear impact our education, job achievement, and even health?

Fear is an emotion that occurs when a person perceives a threat. Maybe the threat is to their safety, their health, their job, or their education. And sometimes, fear is caused by new and unknown experiences. The outcome of fear is that a person automatically pulls away from whatever is causing the fear. It’s a survival mechanism. But what if never facing that fear causes a person to stagnate in their career, their health, and their education? We are immersed in a performance and results driven society that requires continued growth.

Before we can fully understand the impact of fear of failure and success, we need to determine what we are striving to reach. Are we reaching for better health, improved job skills, stronger personal or professional relationships? Each of our experiences, successful or not, bring us to the place we are right now. It is not the individual successes or failures, but rather the collective experience that points to who we are as individuals. Is it really about misplaced value in being defined as successful as opposed to experiencing the process of growth and change.

I work with diverse groups of people on a daily basis by providing instruction and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from implementing online learning, using social media, building marketing strategies, and sharing information on health and fitness.  Each week I encounter people who are afraid to learn something new. They may not recognize their hesitance as a typical survival response, but it is. I know why. I completely understand. I have fallen victim to this feeling myself on several different occasions.

The fear is not learning something new; but, rather, the fear is not being good at the new concept learned. It’s safer to complete tasks the way we already know how to do them.  Many of us have worked hard to get into a routine. Routines make our lives easier and more predictable. We can feel successful in the fact that we have mastered our routine.

To alter that routine, to learn something new is one thing, but to alter that routine even farther to implement the new thing we have learned is intimidating.  It messes with how we feel about having control over our lives, time, organization, eating, teaching, (fill in the blank). By entertaining the thought of learning something new we are entertaining the thought of putting ourselves out there for the possibility of failure. It is not a comfortable feeling to do that when we know we are already successful doing our job, running our live according to our already established successful routine.

The problem occurs when nobody is willing to take a risk, to learn something new, to go out on a limb and try something outside of the ordinary. We stagnate and get so far away from the change that learning brings that it becomes more and more challenging to learn new ideas and have new experiences. 
My perspective as an instructor challenges me to ask the following questions: How do I guide people when I am afraid of change and hesitate when learning something new? What is the consequence of potentially failing that is associated with the unknown? The reality is that as an educational leader, I can’t allow myself to fear failure/change/a challenge.

Knowing that fear can not stop me, how do I embrace change as a positive challenge? How do I learn to not fear failure? First, I need to understand that I am going to fail and that each failure will make me stronger as I learn from them. Failing is not the end of the world as I know it, but rather the opportunity to experience new and insightful experiences. This applies to diet and exercise, technology immersion, relationship building, and trying new instructional strategies in the classroom.

We often let our performance in one area of our life dictate how we are defined as a person. This specific performance indicator then affects our level of security, contentment, and happiness. Moving past fear requires balance and a plan. A plan that can adjust and level to fit the ever-changing world around us.

The plan would start with self-questioning. Why do I need to grow and experience new ideas? Is it because I want to improve my health, my job potential, my instructional strategies? Sometimes, it takes something radical – a job loss, a health scare- to force us to face our fear. In the words of Henry Ford, “One who fears failure limits his activities. Failure is the only opportunity to more intelligently begin again.”

So how does this information relate to i-Pathways? To the challenge that educators have with computer-based testing coming in a few short months?

Let’s start with a plan.  What kind of professional development does a program and staff need?  Beyond our outstanding curriculum, i-Pathways provides a FREE monthly training calendar covering the following topics and many more:

  • New Instructor Training
  • Marketing i-Pathways
  • Using i-Pathways at a Distance
  • Using i-Pathways as an In-Class Supplement
  • i-Pathways: Preparing Students for CBT
  • Retaining i-Pathways At-A-Distance Learners
  • Using Social Media to Reach Students

What are is the program’s goals for use of i-Pathways? Is the program looking to use it as an in-class supplement, at a distance, or some combination of the two?  The thing to keep in mind is no matter how an adult education program decide to use it, the adult ed program will always be supported, adult education program users will be providing a nationally recognized curriculum for students and instructors, and both staff and students will gain needed technology skills in a helpful, non-threatening environment.

Sometimes, it does take something radical to force us to face our fears. Computer-based testing (CBT) might be that radical thing that forces all of us to adjust and balance, to not stagnate, to face our fears of technology and fully immerse our programs in technology.

If you need assistance with readying staff for the use of technology, there is no better tool than i-Pathways.  Through i-Pathways professional development and internet-based curriculum instructors and students can gain valuable skills that will help them be successful in many areas of life.  Let us help you get ready for technology immersion, computer-based testing, the GED Test or any high school equivalency. No fear of failure here.

Contact Crystal Hack at for more details about how to become an i-Pathways user. Let us help you get your staff and students ready for the future.

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