Why do we conduct an evaluation of a learning experience? Many
times, we do not use the information or only give it a cursory
review. Are there real benefits to conducting training evaluations?
Some of the purposes for conducting evaluation include:
To build relationships with management. The
identification of the business metric, evaluation plan, collection
of information, and communication of results all involve
To improve the design of the learning experience.
Evaluation can help verify the needs assessment, learning
objectives, instructional strategies, target audience, delivery
method and quality of delivery, and course content.
To assess the effectiveness of the instructional
strategies. Case studies, tests, exercises, and other
instructional strategies must be relevant to the job and reinforce
course content. Instructional strategies, when used as part of
evaluation, can measure the knowledge, skills, and abilities the
learning experience teaches.
To determine the appropriate pace and sequence. Do
we need more or less time for the total learning experience or
parts of the learning? Were parts of the learning experience
covered too fast or too slow? Does the content flow make sense?
To decide who should participate in this or future
programs. The needs assessment includes an audience
analysis. Only including the target audience saves money and
improves the return-on-investment.
To determine if you met the objectives of the learning
experience. This will allow you to focus your efforts on
content reinforcement and improvement.
To determine the adequacy of the content: How can
the content be more job related? Does all the content support the
To provide feedback to the facilitator. Did the
facilitator know the content? Did the facilitator provide added
depth and value? Was the facilitator credible?
To provide feedback to participants. Was there a
shift in knowledge and skills? To what extent can the participants
demonstrate the skills or behavior?
To reinforce learning. The measurement process
itself can cause the learner to reflect on the content, select the
appropriate content area, and use it.
To identify which participants are experiencing
success. Evaluation can identify which participants grasp
the new knowledge and skills and which participants are struggling.
To identify the learning that being used on the
job. You must have transfer to have an ROI.
To assess the on-the-job environment. What
environmental factors support or inhibit the use of the new
knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors?
To determine impact and ROI. What was the shift in
the identified business metric? What part of that shift was due to
the learning experience? Was the benefit to the organization worth
the total cost of providing the learning experience?
To gather data for marketing purposes. Positive
results can help promote the learning experience to other potential
participants. It also positions the training and development staff
as a valuable asset.
The above statements will help you make the business case for
learning. However, management often also wants to know the benefits
from an evaluation. Evaluations can:
- secure client support and build client relationships
- allow you to see if the results from the learning are
consistent with the business opportunity analysis, and needs
- focus the training, which results in reduced costs
- provide information regarding the target audience and
- assess the alignment of the content with the learning
objectives, needs assessment data, and the instructional
- validate performance gaps and learner needs
- determine if the learning was a cost-effective solution
If you demonstrate value, you may have access to more resources.
Identifying purposes and benefits for an evaluation initiative
helps you frame the business case and garner support.