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4 Steps For Handling The Dreaded “Master Code” Question

31 May 2017 by Dee Manley

As a trainer, you have probably heard the age-old question from at least one participant during the testing process: “Why can’t I find out the master codes for the testing videos?” You have also probably heard the argument: “If I found out the master codes on my testing videos, I would have a better understanding of my performance.”

This is always a tricky question to answer, so much so, that we’ve written about it before!

Here are a few steps that I have found to be effective when I respond to this common question:

Step 1: Affirm and clarify.

First, I point out that this is an excellent question and it’s easy to see why someone might ask about it. Then I explain that there is a difference between the training video experience and the testing video experience.

Step 2: Explain the purpose of the training videos.

Next, I explain that during the training, providing master codes gives participants a specific structure to assist with and scaffold their understanding of the CLASS tool. Training videos teach participants to develop a CLASS lens and help them identify personal biases and coding tendencies. Just like practicing equations in math class, the key to doing well is practicing and comparing your attempt to the correct answer. Training videos give new observers a good sense of what the testing experience will be like. But there is one key difference: training videos are just for practice! 

Step 3: Explain the purpose of the testing videos.

Next, I directly contrast the training video experience to the testing experience—where the purpose is to become a reliable CLASS observer. The reliability test measures and verifies that a participant can transfer the skills learned in observation training to the classroom. The testing experience prepares participants for coding in the field, where master codes do not exist, and we must rely on our own coding skills and objectivity to conduct fair and accurate observations. 

Step 4: Explain how to make the most of testing feedback.

Your participant may make the claim that she cannot learn from her coding mistakes on the test if she does not have the master codes. This is simply not true! Upon test completion, every participant receives individualized testing feedback with critical information about coding trends. This information can be used to support another test attempt (if needed), or generally to help coders as they move into the field. Understanding personal unique coding tendencies is incredibly valuable for all observers, experienced or new. 

Have you ever dealt with this question from a training participant? What did you say?

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