It is important to think about how you are going to evaluate your learning and development activities at the planning stage and build this into your Training Needs Analysis.
Evaluation helps demonstrate the value of training and learning and will help you plan future training and learning activities.
The Kirkpatrick model is widely used and identifies four levels of evaluation:
Level 1: Reaction
This asks learners how they felt about the learning they took part in. It is usually assessed using a course evaluation questionnaire or ‘happy sheet’.
There are alternatives to questionnaires. For example, you could end a training session by asking people to jot down answers on post-it notes to questions such as what I liked, what could be improved, what I learnt, what else do I need to learn. You can then collate these on a flipchart.
Level 2: Learning
This assesses what has been learnt and the ways you assess this wil depend on what participants should have learnt at the end of the training (the learning objective).
For example, if the learning objective was particular information about health and safety policies, then this could be tested with a quiz. If the learning objective was to learn to perform a particular task such as producing a spreadsheet or chairing a meeting, then this can be tested and observed in the workplace.
Level 3: Behaviour
This evaluates the effect that taking part in the training or learning has on an individual’s behaviour in their job. This can be assessed by reviewing changes in their knowledge, skills and competence as part of their supervision and appraisal process.
Level 4: Results
This looks at the impact of the learning on the organisation’s performance as a whole.
If the learning objectives are clearly linked to organisational objectives, then data linking learning to organisational changes will be easier to obtain and analyse.
It is not always easy to link learning and development activities directly to overall organisational performance. However, if you carry out something like a SWOT analysis (pdf, 25Kb) on an annual basis, then you can assess the trends over a period of time. Your investements in training and learning should show up in the Strengths and Opportunities columns of a SWOT and reduce your organisational Weaknesses and Threats.