Performance improvement professionals have become very adept at
creating exceptional ways to impart knowledge or develop skills to
improve job performance. In the last 10 years or so, many have also
become proficient at measuring how successful they are in meeting
performance improvement goals.
Professionals that credibly measure success use the ROI methodology
that isolates the business impact from the training event.
(Phillips 2003). This methodology has helped a somewhat skeptical
learning, development, and business audience become comfortable
that those programs measured for job performance are being measured
accurately. But very few programs are measured at this level. Why?
Because of a lack of resources or expertise and because of the
intrusiveness it can cause to the employees and the organization
(Phillips, Phillips, and Hodges 2004).
In fact, most organizations do not measure job performance or ROI
at all. Many measure the participants' satisfaction or reaction to
the program, but unfortunately, many organizations do not know if
their employees actually learn from their training
programs. The truth is, however, nearly all programs can
be measured for learning. These are the advantages of creating
tests and other techniques that measure if participants "got it":
- Program designers receive quantitative data about which parts
of the program work and which do not.
- Performance improvement professionals learn whether the
training program is the cause of poor performance or if something
else is to blame.
- Training leaders can determine if the participants have the
prerequisite skills required to participate in the training
- Training designers have the data to make comparisons regarding
programs, such as which media type is most effective, which
instruction is working best, or which participant group is getting
the most from the program.
- Program stakeholders, including those who paid for the program
and those supervisors who must do without their employees who are
participating in the program, receive quantifiable data about the
value of the program.
- The organization receives scorecard data that demonstrates how
effective the training organization is in meeting its goals.
So if learning data is so valuable, why don't more organizations
take advantage of it? Many do not realize the ways learning data
can be used or how to design or validate tests.
Now that we have established the importance of learning data, let's
address the expertise component. There are many resources that can
help the training designer develop knowledge- or performance-based
tests. A list of good resources to start with is included with this
In addition, ASTD provides testing certificate programs. Several
consultants provide workshops for organizations so that their
entire design and development team can learn methods to construct
tests. And, the Test Construction and Validation Guidance Documents
and Standards, developed by Toni Hodges DeTuncq, ensure that all
tests are constructed and validated properly. These standards not
only ensure the organization develops tests that are legally
defensible but are standardized so that scores from one program can
be compared with those of another. Once these standards have been
prepared, the organization can practically, effectively, and
efficiently measure their programs, and realize the benefits of