Evaluation of workplace learning and training

There have been many surveys on the use of evaluation in training and development. While surveys might initially appear heartening, suggesting that many trainers/organisations use training evaluation extensively, when more specific and penetrating questions are asked, it if often the case that many professional trainers and training departments are found to use only ‘reactionnaires’ (general vague feedback forms), including the invidious ‘Happy Sheet’ relying on questions such as ‘How good did you feel the trainer was?’, and ‘How enjoyable was the training course?’.

For effective training and learning evaluation, the principal questions should be:

    To what extent were the identified training needs objectives achieved by the programme?
    To what extent were the learners’ objectives achieved?
    What specifically did the learners learn or be usefully reminded of?
    What commitment have the learners made about the learning they are going to implement on their return to work?

And back at work,

    How successful were the trainees in implementing their action plans?
    To what extent were they supported in this by their line managers?
    To what extent has the action listed above achieved a Return on Investment (ROI) for the organization, either in terms of identified objectives satisfaction or, where possible, a monetary assessment.

Organizations commonly fail to perform these evaluation processes, especially where:

    The HR department and trainers, do not have sufficient time to do so, and/or
    The HR department does not have sufficient resources – people and money – to do so.

Obviously the evaluation cloth must be cut according to available resources (and the culture atmosphere), which tend to vary substantially from one organization to another. The fact remains that good methodical evaluation produces a good reliable data; conversely, where little evaluation is performed, little is ever known about the effectiveness of the training.