The goal of evaluation

Whenever any organisation trains its employees it does so with an objective in mind. This objective can be extremely varied; equipping the people to do their job to the necessary legal requirement; giving ideas on how things might be done differently; opening minds to new ways of thinking; improving skill levels; as a reward for a job well done. With an objective in mind training is budgeted, designed, organised and implemented.

In assessing whether the training achieves the objective many organisations rely on the initial reaction of the participants at the end of the training, along with the observations of the training professionals who organised the training. Training professionals can be heard saying ‘as long as the participants are happy…’ hence the term happy sheets to describe the feedback forms completed at the end of most training sessions.

With some training an assessment of its success and impact is intrinsic. Training towards a qualification, for example, requires the participant to pass an exam or complete an assessment. These tests establish whether the participant has gained knowledge or ability. This test approach can be applied to other areas. For example, if a person is trained to use a software package they can be easily tested to see whether they have retained knowledge and can apply this knowledge in using the software programme.

Whether knowledge is actually used in the workplace is a different question. In the latter example we may be able to establish quite simply if the person has learnt the software programme, but we cannot predict if or in what circumstances they will use it. Moreover if we discover that this person does apply their new knowledge of the software programme, we may also wish to know whether this new skill has any positive impact on their work. Then we could go further by asking whether the use of this new skill has had any positive impact for the organisation
Evaluation is linked to the objective for the training. In order to evaluate a clear objective is required. It is likely that budget holders are going to be increasingly required to justify and measure the effectiveness of any training investment. And that probably means defining a training goal in terms of business impact rather than just learning.

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The goal of evaluation

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