2 Proven Ways to Assess if Training Participants are Learning

Assess if Training Participants are Learning

How to Assess if Training Participants are Learning
Too many instructional designers and trainers forget to assess if training participants are learning what they are supposed to be learning along the way.

Why Are There So Little Training Needs Assessments Done?
While it is more common for quizzes and tests to be built into online learning, we are continuously surprised by the lack of testing and assessments that occur during onsite training workshops.  We find the problem stems from instructional designers and trainers who are good about creating learning objectives, but who are not so good at defining business objectives and learning activities to test skills, knowledge, behaviors or attitudes.

Learning Objectives
Instructional designers and training practitioners have been creating learning objectives for decades.  We define learning objectives as:

  • What do you want the participants to DO that they cannot do now, and
  • What do you want the participants to KNOW that they do not know now

Examples of Learning Objectives
For example, common learning objectives for management training include:

  • Identifying key responsibilities and challenges of the Supervisor role
  • Understanding the difference between leadership and management
  • Holding constructive performance conversations

Common learning objectives for sales training programs include:

  • Understanding customer business goals, problems and needs
  • Linking solutions to customer priorities
  • Articulating your value proposition in a way that resonates with target buyers

Regardless of the topic area, clear learning objectives are necessary to design an effective and meaningful training program.

Business Objectives
While clear business objectives are common for line leaders, training practitioners sometimes struggle to link learning directly to the business.  We define business objectives as:

  • What is the desired impact on the business if the learning objectives are accomplished

Examples of Business Objectives
Management Training: For example, if managers improve their skills and knowledge, they should have a positive impact on:

  • Employee engagement
  • Productivity
  • Retention
  • Employee relations

RELATED: The 4 High Performance Management Metrics that Matter Most

Sales Training: If sales reps improve their performance, they should have a positive impact on:

  • Revenue
  • Margin
  • Win-rates
  • Portfolio-mix
  • Cycle time
  • Deal size

Done right, each business objective should include the current state, the desired state and the value of closing the gap.  The value of closing the gap tells you how much to invest in training design, delivery and reinforcement.

Learning Objectives without Business Objectives
Learning objectives without business objectives have very little “teeth” and are likely to be treated as “training events” instead of change initiatives to improve on-the-job behavior and performance.

How to Assess if Training Participants are Learning
Once your learning and business objectives have been identified, the format you choose to assess if training participants are learning is critical…it needs to be in sync with the business objectives of the program. Consider two proven training assessment types to determine skill proficiency and knowledge gain:

  1. Short- and long-answer tests
  2. Performance tests

Short- and Long Answer Tests
These assessments test one’s “declarative” knowledge and are practical to both administer and score. They are given in paper form or on a computer or tablet and are typically composed of four different types of questions: matching, true or false, multiple choice, and essay. Simple answer tests are most appropriate when you are testing for “knowledge about something”, rather than “knowledge of how to do something.”

Performance Tests
This more complex type of assessment tests the performance (or application) of the skills in real-world simulations. Some of the ways to test whether a subject can actually perform on the job are through observation, scenario questions, or simulations. This is the better way to test if the target audience will be able to transfer the learning to the workplace.

Performance Test Example
Here’s an example of a recent performance test.

  • We  designed a management certification program for new managers.  One of the learning objectives was to teach new managers how to better empathize and communicate with their direct reports and external clients.
  • The related business objectives were to increase levels of employee engagement by 2% and to improve customer satisfaction scores by 7% over a 12-month period.

We designed the performance test as follows:

  • The performance test contained scenarios and role plays based upon the top five challenges faced by new managers at the company. The performance test presented unpredictable situations from different styles of employees and customers.
  • The new managers performance was evaluated through an objective checklist that was created with the client and their customers based upon research into their highest and lowest performing managers.
  • With practice, feedback and coaching, each manager had to “pass” each scenario to be certified as a new manager.

The Bottom Line
To help ensure the transfer of training from the classroom to the job, be sure you match your business objectives, learning objectives and performance tests.

To learn more about effective training assessment and measurement, download Connecting the Disconnects – How to Achieve the Real ROI of Learning

Comments are closed.

Understanding and conforming to legal compliance was very important to our company. We turned to LSA Global to provide a quality and cost effective way to ensure that we were AB 1825 compliant. Their interactive eLearning program was top-notch. It allowed our managers to learn at their own pace, and on their own time. The program was tailored to include our logo and our internal harassment policies. It was interactive and met all federal and state legal requirements. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company looking for an efficient and effective and top quality way to train their managers to be in compliance.

Kelly Warren, SPHR
Director, HR & Compliance

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

Rae Phillips
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

PalmSource has found our relationship with LSA extremely beneficial. We worked closely with LSA to customize the right Management Training Program solution to meet our unique business needs. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner.

Ken Boehm
Vice President of Human Resources

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources


In my years working with LSA, it seems like I’ve had a personal consultant at my fingertips to help me identify just the right solution to satisfy our needs. The entire LSA team has become a trusted friend of Actel — assuring we provide state-of-the-art learning to meet our complex, high-tech business and people needs.

Linda Mitchell
Training Manager

Avon’s success is dependent on strong relationships among our Customers, Representatives, Associates, and outside resources we hire to help us meet our business objectives. We were very pleased with the results from working with LSA Global to design and facilitate a custom program for our events management team. LSA demonstrated responsiveness, flexibility, and an innovative approach to working with us.

Deanna Rudnitsky
Senior Manager, HR Destiny Sales Region

LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

Emily Couey
Director of Human Resources

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting


The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.

Robert Breckner
Firmware Engineering Manager

Evaluate your Performance



Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.


Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.




Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.




First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.



Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.


Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.