Assessment and Evaluation of Training Programs

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“The main reason for evaluating is to determine the effectiveness of a training program. When the evaluation is done, we can hope that the results are positive and gratifying, both for those responsible for the program and for the upper level managers who will make decisions based on their evaluation of the program.” Donald Kirkpatrick is one of the pioneers when it comes to evaluation and he is the father of The Four Levels of Evaluation:

– Level 1 is Reactions, just as the word implies, evaluation at this level measures how participants in a training program react to it.

– Level 2 is Learning, where assessing at this level moves the evaluation beyond learner satisfaction and attempts to assess the extent students have advanced in skills, knowledge, or attitude.

– Level 3 is Transfer; this level measures the transfer that has occurred in learners’ behavior due to the training program.

– Level 4 is Results, where the training is assessed in terms of business results such as increased production, improved quality, and decreased costs are great examples.

To most companies it has become really important to evaluate and assess, because upper management keeps on asking: “What is the value that your training department is bringing to the company?” and “What is the viability of this program? what is it achieving?” all of these questions are asked and training professionals have little to give as an answer. That is why in order for most professionals to grasp the concept of evaluation and assessment, they need to start giving the evaluation and assessment a lot of attention and serious thought.

Most training practitioners use a one size fits all solution such as a course feedback questionnaire, which gives some information, but not enough, till date, though majority of professionals say that they have evaluation going on in their departments, i would safely say most are still a long way from being there! In our markets here in the Middle East, professionals use primitive systems based on spreadsheets where data is just gathered, stored and hardly even looked at because of the lack of flexibility which doesn’t make learning professionals’ lives easier. So as you might notice that evaluation is still at its best at level one or two, and the uses of the results are still in the “a la carte” area.

So my suggestion would be training professionals need to start concentrating a lot more on evaluating their programs properly and spend less time counting how many people they trained this year, the magic word here is quality and not quantity!