Training Evaluations Overview
Training evaluations are conducted with the intent of obtaining information on the effectiveness of a training program. Training evaluations are intended to check whether a training event has met its objectives and whether participants are able to implement his or her learning on the job.
The results of the evaluation process help training professionals modify future training strategies to meet objectives and implement learning to positively affect job performance.
An evaluation of a training program may focuses on any of the following:
- Whether the participants enjoyed the program.
- Whether the participants benefited from the program.
- Whether the learning objectives of the program were met.
- Whether new knowledge or skills were gained as a result of the training.
- Whether new knowledge or skills were able to be implement on the job.
- What impact the training had on actual performance of the participants on the job.
- Whether the program actually meet the required business need.
- Whether there a sufficient return on investment (ROI).
Types of Evaluations
Generally there are five standard types of training evaluations:
Formative Evaluation – Evaluates a training program during its development stage in order to make modifications early on to help improve the program.
Summative Evaluation – Conducted after the training program has been design in order to provide information on its effectiveness.
Process Evaluation – Focuses on the implementation of a training program to determine if specific strategies and activities were implemented as intended.
Outcomes Evaluation – Focuses on the changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that resulted from training activities.
Impact Evaluation – Focuses on long term, sustained changes on the job performance as a result of the delivery of a training program.
Evaluation methods can be either quantitative or qualitative. Most training evaluation processes include a combination of both of these methods. This is because the combination generally provides the best overall assessment of the program.
Quantitative methods involve the use of numerical data to analyze information. The information obtained produces data that can be counted, put into categories, measured, or ranked. Typically, rating scales or closed questions are used to generate quantitative data as these produce either numerical data or data that can be put into categories (e.g. “yes’ or “no” questions).
After collection, this data can then be evaluated using statistical analysis and easily placed into graphs and tables.
Quantitative methods can answer such questions as;
- How many people attended?
- How much did the training program cost?
- How many workshops did you complete?
- How many people completed or passed the program?
- What were the assessments outcomes?
Qualitative methods involve gathering information that is not in numerical form. It is descriptive data of events, people, situations, and observed behaviors. It is typically opinions, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals who attended a training program or those impacted by a program.
The questions and methods used to gather qualitative data tend to be open?ended and be less structured, thus harder to measure than quantitative data. However, the data is helpful as it can provide contextual information to clarify potential issues by explaining the “why” and “how” behind the issues.
Qualitative data methods can answer such questions as;
- What did participants get out of the program?
- Why did participants feel the program was beneficial?
- How will participants be able to use the information provided?
- What are some challenges participants found with the program?
Training Evaluation Tools
Evaluation tools are what is used to collect data on the training programs. They come in a variety of forms and can be divided into categories such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and observations. These methods are often used collectively to achieve a variety of results from different perspectives. Ultimately, several are combined to obtain the best overall assessment of the program.
These methods are designed to determine a learner’s perceptions, experience, and behavior using both qualitative and quantitative data. The information obtained can be used to modify future training sessions.
Training Evaluation Tools
- Focus groups
Questionnaires are a set of questions delivered to individuals for obtaining useful statistical information on a particular topic.
Interviews are a data collection method aimed at gathering both facts and opinions by asking open-ended questions where the respondent can answer the questions in as much detail as her or she wishes to.
Focus groups are a facilitated discussion with a group of individuals who share similar characteristics or common interests intended to collect information or obtain opinions on a specific issue.
Observation is a method of gathering data by watching an individual’s behavior in their natural setting.