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. Not many business functions are allowed to get away with this lack of scrutiny.
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, and attitudes.
Learning Objectives Defined
Instructional designers and training practitioners have been creating learning objectives for decades. We define learning objectives as:
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, and holding constructive performance conversations.
Common learning objectives for sales training programs include understanding customer business goals, problems and needs, linking solutions to customer priorities, and 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.
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 the desired impact on the business if the learning objectives are accomplished. For example, if managers improve their skills and knowledge, they should have a positive impact on employee engagement, productivity, retention, or employee relations.
RELATED ARTICLE: The 4 High Performance Management Metrics that Matter Most
For sales training, if sales reps improve their performance, they should have a positive impact on revenue, margin, win-rate, portfolio-mix, cycle time, or 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.
Simple answer tests are most appropriate when you are testing for “knowledge about something”, rather than “knowledge of how to do something.”
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.
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
Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.
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.
Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.