This is what James D. Kirkpatrick, wrote in his book- Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Training Evaluation “Evaluation is not an afterthought to training, but rather is meant to be integrated into the entire learning and development process. If you wait until after a program is designed, developed, and delivered to consider what value it is supposed to provide to the organization and how you will evaluate it, there is little chance of the program having much value.” Why the emphasis? In a free thinking, self-paced learning world, one would think that evaluation could build pressure, force learners into learning etc. However, training without evaluation wouldn’t really be effective, would it?
While setting up evaluation, creating assessments that can provide relevant information about how well the learners learn, how much of it will be implemented etc. could be seemingly abstruse. Another aspect that often hinders evaluation is the fact that training managers and L&D often think of it as an afterthought rather than thinking of it as a part of the learning development itself. Hence, the evaluative model often fails to measure the actual results.
But before nitpicking on the flaws, it is pertinent to understand the actual importance of Training evaluation.
The success of eLearning/training remains in the way it is improved or modified from time to time. But how is that done, where do we begin from. Training evaluation is a way to collect such raw information, feedbacks, how the learners access learning, how they progress, where do they drop-out? and the whole enchilada. This helps in understanding what needs to be replicated, what needs to be chunked out and what needs to be improved.
Getting Concrete Answers
ROI the answer to all investment battles. Why should we opt for eLearning? How will the training help? Good evaluation gives the answers for all that and more. This data can be used to convince the key stakeholders and in negotiating the training budget too.
Analyzing Training Efficiency
While this may very well be the primary role of training evaluation and assessments. Reports often provide the bigger picture when analyzed. Even the learning patterns can be predicted with enough data and this in turn can assist in creating more intuitive training, and for delivering personalized learning.
In short training evaluation is all about finding how effective the training is/was. It helps in understanding whether the objectives have been reached, what skills or behavior changes have been imparted, how the performance has improved and most importantly how it affects the organizational goals, turn-around and in gaining a competitive edge.
What according to you makes Training evaluation essential? Do share your thoughts.