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Develop Evaluation Strategy

Training & Development / Develop Evaluation Strategy

Although evaluation is presented as the final portion of the discussion on developing effective training, it is important to plan the evaluation strategy well before the training takes place. Evaluation is not merely an activity at the end of the training course, but is an on-going process throughout the training that allows the trainer(s) to assess how well the course is progressing and that objectives are being met

Training evaluation has been described as a systematic process of collecting information for and about a training activity which can then be used for guiding decision making and for assessing the relevance and effectiveness of various training components. Training evaluation gives a measure of the extent to which the training has been successful in accomplishing the training objectives. Evaluation methods result in feedback from the trainees. Proper evaluation allows for continual improvement of the training program.

Evaluation strategies include: (i) Pre-training; (ii) Process; (iii) Terminal, and; (iiii) Follow up. Our focus is primarily on the Terminal and to some extent, on the Process evaluation strategies.

Terminal evaluation, at the end of a training course, is most common and is used to allow trainees an opportunity to provide feedback on the usefulness of the training and on aspects of the training that could be improved for future training courses.

Four criteria have been suggested to evaluate training programs: reaction, learning, behaviour and results. Each criterion is used to measure different aspects of the training program. Reaction measures how the trainees liked the program in terms of content, methods, duration, trainers, facilities and management. Learning measures the trainees’ skills and the knowledge they were able to obtain during the training. Behaviour is concerned with the extent to which the trainees were able to apply their knowledge to real field situations. Results are concerned with the tangible impact of the training program on individuals, their job environment or the organization as a whole.

Although trainers often view evaluation as a necessary exercise with very little value, effective evaluation can be a valuable tool. Benefits of conducting evaluation include:

  • Measuring how well the course objectives were achieved
  • Improving the efficiency of training to allow better use of limited resources
  • Highlighting the value of the training and increasing the organizations’ commitment to training
  • Fostering interest in training at all levels of the organizational structure

Although evaluation can be informal or formal, our preference is for the latter. Our trainers will request formal feedback by asking questions to assess the trainees understanding and appreciation of the subject discussed. Common formal evaluation methods include written evaluations or questionnaires completed by the trainee or a structured interview with the trainee about training techniques and information gained.

Feedback is then analyzed. This allows us (and the trainer) to amend and improve materials for subsequent training. It may also identify gaps in training that need to be addressed. It is essential that the best use is made from all feedback received and that it is not simply an exercise on paper.

In addition to feedback received from the trainees on the use and effectiveness of the training course, self-evaluation by the trainer is essential. Every time training is conducted, the trainer is encouraged to assess how he/she functioned as a trainer and make adjustments before the next training program. If a team teaching approach is used, team members are asked for input regarding training organization and effectiveness.