As a trainer, you should continually seek to determine how well
your training content is meeting the performance needs of your
learners and their organization(s). By regularly examining the
content, materials, delivery style, learning environment, and other
pertinent factors of the training process, and assessing learner
comprehension and satisfaction, you can implement continuing
Because return-on-investment is a crucial part of training, you
should strive to ensure that what you offer positively contributes
to the organization's bottom line. By adding value for an
organization in the form of employees' increased knowledge and
skills, you are more likely to gain and maintain management support
for future training initiatives.
Eight ways to monitor learners' feelings during
You may be able to determine the effectiveness of your training by
gathering information from your learners at various points during
learning events. Here are some strategies to help identify how your
learners feel about you, your session, and the content they
Identify learner receptiveness to training. To
help anticipate potential training issues, try to determine how
learners feel about attending the session and gauge their potential
receptiveness to learning. Before class, draw a "mood scale" on a
piece of flip-chart paper and hang it on the wall (exhibit 13.1).
As participants arrive, ask them to go to the chart and put a check
mark under the number that matches how they feel about the training
that's about to begin. If you think people will be more comfortable
describing their moods privately, give each person a sheet with the
mood scale on it. Ask them to place a check mark and pass the
sheets up to you. This anonymity lets them give you information
without fear of identification or retribution.
Watch nonverbal cues. Gauge learner interest and
attentiveness and their reactions to what they are hearing and
doing by monitoring the nonverbal signals that they provide. Be on
the lookout for the following distracted behaviors, and change the
pace or actively engage learners when you see one or more
participants exhibiting them:
- gazing out the window
- fidgeting or moving restlessly
- periodically looking at a clock or watch
- using electronic devices, such as cell phones or PDAs
- doodling or drawing
- frequently conversing with others
- failing to respond appropriately to questions asked.
Regularly gauge feelings concerning content.
Through a series of open-ended questions, find out how your
learners are feeling as the session progresses. Based on the amount
and quality of their responses, you can determine the training's
effectiveness and perceived value. Here are a couple of questions
you might ask:
- What's your reaction to what we just discussed?
- How do you feel what we just discussed will be received by your
customers/co-workers? Or you might ask them to imagine a five-point
scale (with 1 being the most positive response) and to raise their
hands when you call out the number that best describes how they
feel about session content thus far. An anonymous means of
accomplishing this survey is to have learners write a number from 1
to 5 on a sheet of paper and pass the sheets to you. If it appears
that a significant percentage of the class is not pleased, ask,
"What can I do to make this session more meaningful for you?" Have
learners write down their responses and pass them in. Give a short
break while you read their feedback, process it, and make necessary
adjustments. Continue to check on their feelings throughout the
Elicit participant reactions. A "message paddle"
is another way to gather learner input. Create simple two-sided
paddles by stapling pieces of poster board to dowel rods or small
sticks. Put a large "1" on one side and a large "2" on the other.
Include the paddle with the participants' guides. When you want to
gauge their reactions to session content, define the 1 and 2 in
whatever way will fit the questions you plan to ask. For example, 1
could mean "yes," "agree," or "important"' and 2 could indicate
"no," "disagree," or "not important." Make statements similar to
those that follow, and ask all learners to hold up their paddles to
show you the numbers that match their responses:
- I am pleased with the session content thus far.
- The information received has been worth my time investment.
- I can immediately apply [name a topic].
- I think [name a topic] was an important topic.
- With 1 meaning "important" and 2 meaning "unimportant," I would
rate the last topic we discussed...
- The topic we just discussed was very helpful in understanding
[name an issue or topic].
Ask learners to vote on important information.
List key session learning points on one or more flip-chart pages
and post them on the walls. Provide round stickers in three
different colors, and assign each color a value - perhaps a yellow
dot = "most valuable," a blue dot ="neutral value," and a red dot =
"least valuable." Ask learners to move around the room and vote on
each point's value or usefulness for them by placing a dot on each
page. When the dots have been placed, you'll know what learners
consider to be of most and least value. If you feel that an item
covered should be viewed as more important than they rated it,
discuss the item and gather their perceptions, then reinforce why
it's a valuable factor in the training.
Solicit end-of-session reactions. Although
end-of-session feedback from learners can't help the current group,
it will help you make improvements for future learning events.
Gather such feedback by using an end-of-session questionnaire that
asks such questions as these:
- What did you most enjoy about the session? Why?
- What did you least enjoy about the session? Why?
- What environmental factors (such as the room or facility,
equipment, or materials) helped or hindered your learning?
- How do you feel about the overall delivery approach used by the
- What did the instructor do that facilitated your learning?
- What did the instructor do that limited your learning?
- What suggestions can you provide to enhance future sessions?
Gather begin-continue-stop suggestions. Before the
class ends, give three index cards to learners. Ask them to write
the following words, one on each card: "Begin" "Continue," and
"Stop." Then give them several minutes to write on each card at
least one suggestion for improving the training experience. For
example, they might write statements such as these:
- Please start giving breaks more often.
- Please continue to involve us in discussions about session
- Please stop playing with the marker while you talk.
Discover learners' plans for implementing what they've
learned. Form groups of three to five learners for an
activity in which they identify several ways to use a specific
concept or skill when they return to their jobs. Doing this helps
reinforce their learning by making them recall and review topics.
It also focuses them on the real-world value of the training.
Traveling from group to group and listening to members' plans will
help you determine if learners see the value or utility of the
information they've received.
*This article is an excerpt from Energize Your Training:
Creative Techniques to Engage Learners.
Robert W. Lucas is president of Creative
Presentation Resources, a company that offers trainers and
educators an array of creative learning products for enlightening
presentations; http://www.presentationresources.net .