Struggles of a trainer: Three levels to evaluate effective training courses

MDF

Last week, I met a participant who was in my training last year and asked her about the impact of the training. She reflected on the training as a seed that had been planted and was starting to grow. Driving home, I wondered whether I was satisfied with that.

What is the impact of your training? For me as a trainer, it’s one of the most difficult questions. During a training, participants are enthusiastic and eager to learn, but what happens next Monday morning after the training, when they are back in the office? Will there be a difference?

In this blog, I look at how to evaluate a training. We consider three different levels.

REACTION. At the end of the training, we usually ask the participants to fill out an online survey measuring the initial reaction after the training with questions related to the learning objectives, the content of the training, training methods, the trainers and logistics. It’s relatively easy and usually people are very positive as they are still in the happy vibe of the classroom. Therefore, as a trainer you receive direct feedback and can easily figure out if you can be content or not.

LEARNING. The second level is the actual learning: what new knowledge and skills are acquired? There are different ways to measure this. When it comes to knowledge generation, you can ask participants to fill out an in- and an out-test, and the difference in answers to the same questions will supposedly reflect what they have learned during the training. Another way is through a practical exam or proof that they have mastered a certain skill. If your training is about active listening skills, you can ask the participant to record a meeting in the workplace where they have to use the skill and assess whether they are able to perform it in an effective way. This involves slightly more work for a trainer, but gives some direct feedback on the learning in the training.

RESULT. The third level is the change in actual behavior. Will the participant use the new skill or knowledge in everyday (work) life? Will the seed that is planted really grow and bear fruit and have an impact on the organisation? It’s difficult to measure this, because a change of behavior is usually not only due to a training, but other factors like helpful colleagues also contribute. We can ask the participant a few months after the training or send a survey to the (HR) manager of the participant. This emphasizes that it is not only the responsibility of the trainer and participant to see results of a training, but rather the whole (organisational) system. Planting the seed is important, but the soil has to be fertile, and there should be rain and sunshine, then your training will have an impact!

If you are concerned about the impact of your training, you want to know at which level you need to evaluate and how, feel free to join our course on Training and Facilitation skills

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