Evaluation Training: The Assessment and Planning Part of eLearning

Don’t worry, we’re not going to give you a pop quiz! In the realm of training, the word “evaluation” can mean a few different things. When we hear this word, most of us tend to think of a traditional, closed-book test administered by a teacher or other authority. Others may think of a sequence of events that tests our physical performance in an activity like driving a car or operating a piece of machinery.

In the e-Learning world, when we use the term “evaluation” we’re referring to either:

  • An assessment of knowledge, skills or attitudes brought into a training program, learned during, or applied after training. These proficiencies may be assessed using a variety of means before, during or after training.
  • A comprehensive plan, developed during the needs assessment phase of training design, that outlines success factors and metrics to determine whether or not training was effective and served the intended purpose.

We’re going to focus on the latter point in today’s blog. After all, what’s the purpose of designing and deploying training if it isn’t effective or isn’t aligned with your corporate objectives? You want the biggest bang for your training dollars, and Xpan wants to help you achieve that.

Again, we must mention the essential training needs assessment phase – this is where you determine your real training need, and your current and desired state of affairs. Evaluation seeks to answer whether or not the gap between your current and desired state of affairs has been adequately filled, or whether additional training or separate control measures are required. The information from your needs analysis ends up flowing directly into your evaluation phase.

Xpan’s Senior Instructional Designer, David Welichka, recommends that evaluation occur at multiple stages post-release of your training program. For example:

  • A 1-month post-training evaluation to determine whether or not LMS data shows high rate of course abandonment, high requests for instructor assistance or technical support, or if certain exam questions are consistently being answered incorrectly by a majority of learners.
  • A 6-month or 1-year post-training evaluation to determine whether or not the organization’s business goals (identified in the needs assessment) are being reached. For example, are:
    • Sales or profits increased %15,
    • Customer complaints decreased by 50%, and/or
    • Productivity rates increased by 20%.

Note that most of the values above are measurable, or quantitative. If we can’t measure it, is it fair to say that the training is working just because learners are completing the course? Are skills or behaviors on the job changing, or is the status quo simply being maintained?

If we review the data and find that a course is being abandoned, that certain sections have high requests for support or clarification, or that certain exam questions are being answered incorrectly on a regular basis, we look at our instructional design and subject matter to rectify the problem and modify the course content or technical architecture.

If we review the data and find that business objectives are not being met, we look to our needs assessment, our learning objectives, our timeline for evaluation, and attempt to connect lines to any additional content or concepts required, any non-training reasons (i.e. ergonomics, compensation, complacency, procedures, leadership skills, etc.) that may be contributing to the less than satisfactory results.

It is important to note that over time, most training programs will require updating, both content-wise and technology-wise. While we always try to develop on the leading edge of technology, your processes, information, content or the links/resources in your training program should be revisited regularly to ensure they remain relevant. Don’t worry, we can help you keep your training investment fresh.

xpan-logoXpan develops digital learning solutions for companies all over the world. From design to deployment our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals bettering their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.


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