by Jennie Ruby
Very few readers commented on my recent question about course assessments. Although I do know of at least one training company that offers assessments and feedback after the class, I am deducing that conducting assessments is not the norm. I have read a couple of articles--and one book--saying that we will need to start proving that our training is effective by providing after-the-class assessment. Training on Trial, by Jim D. Kirkpatrick and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick, published in 2010, makes this case.
According to their scheme, which they call the Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Model, there are four levels of results that can be assessed: Reaction, Learning, Behaviors, and Results. The class evaluation students fill in immediately after a class measures what they call "reaction" only. The other levels of assessment are largely left undone.
To begin to tap into these additional levels of assessment, we have to go back to the books and clearly define the goals of the training, and then assess whether measurable results have occurred. Have the students absorbed the material in a measurable way? Have they adopted new behaviors? And finally, have those new behaviors resulted in the business results that were the ultimate goal of the training?
One of our readers did talk about exactly this process of defining clear objectives and then observing behaviors:
Before you can discuss assessment, you have to go back to the objectives. If you have stated the objectives in behavioral terms you can readily determine whether those behaviors (or a simulation of those behaviors) can be assessed online.
- Objective is to know whether the hemoglobin level of a potential blood donor is acceptable for donating. This objective can be easily assessed through simulations (e.g., "You just performed a finger stick on Geri, a potential donor. The result was xxx. What should you do?")
- Objective is to demonstrate effective listening skills during a simulated conversation with an irate customer. You could test whether the learner knows facts about active listening, but that isn't what your objective set out to do. You cannot assess the objective without watching the learner perform.
Perhaps this kind of assessment is needed only for certain kinds of learning. But reading Training on Trial certainly gave me a lot to think about in my own training endeavors. If you have an opinion on the Kirkpatricks' work or on other aspects of how and whether we need to do assessments of training success, we would love to hear from you.
About the Author: Jennie Ruby is a veteran IconLogic trainer and author with titles such as "Editing with Word 2003 and Acrobat 7" and "Editing with MS Word 2007" to her credit. She is a publishing professional with more than 20 years of experience in writing, editing and desktop publishing. Jennie is currently teaching two classes for IconLogic: Writing Training Documents and eLearning Scripts and Writing Effective eLearning Voiceover Scripts.