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Evaluate and Validate Employee Training

As the training manager, you are preparing to interview several consultants who may provide training services to your organization. One of the goals for the interview is to find out how the training will be evaluated and validated. Identify specific points that you will consider as effective evaluation techniques and methods for validating the training.

Describe some of the techniques you would expect the consultants to introduce when they describe the ways in which they plan to evaluate and validate the training. What would be your most important considerations as you decide which consultant to hire? How would you see them integrating technology in the processes of gathering or analyzing data? Provide examples.

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As the training manager, you are preparing to interview several consultants who may provide training services to your organization. One of the goals for the interview is to find out how the training will be evaluated and validated.

1. Identify specific points that you will consider as effective evaluation techniques and methods for validating the training.

There have been many 'surveys' on the use of evaluation in training and development. Results initially appear heartening; many trainers/organizations responding about the extensive approaches they use. However when more specific and penetrating questions are asked, many professional trainers and training departments are found to use only 'reactionnaires' (general vague feedback forms), including the invidious 'Happy Sheet' where, for example, questions such as 'How good did you feel the trainer was?' and 'How enjoyable was the training course?' are used. Even well produced reactionnaires do not constitute validation or evaluation.
For effective training and learning evaluation, the specific points to consider can be summed up with four questions. The principal and significant questions should be:
• To what extent were the identified training needs objectives achieved by the programme?
• To what extent were the learners' objectives achieved?
• What specifically did the learners learn or be usefully reminded of?
• What commitment have the learners made about the learning they are going to implement on their return to work?
Consider the following two evaluation techniques and methods for validating the training:
• Kirkpatrick's learning evaluation model
• Bloom's Taxonomy of learning domains

The consultant would also need to understand who is responsible for the evaluation of training. What do they evaluate:
There are the two principal factors, which need to be resolved:
• Who is responsible for the validation and evaluation processes?
• What resources of time, people and money are available for validation/evaluation purposes? (Within this, consider the effect of variation to these, for instance an unexpected cut in budget or manpower. In other words anticipate and plan contingency to deal with variation.) http://www.businessballs.com/trainingprogramevaluation.htm
Responsibility for the evaluation of training
Traditionally, in the main, any evaluation or other assessment has been left to the consultant/trainers "because that is their job..." This author’s contention is that a 'Training Evaluation Quintet' should exist, each member of the Quintet having roles and responsibilities in the process (see 'Assessing the Value of Your Training', Leslie Rae, Gower, 2002). Considerable lip service appears to be paid to this, but the actual practice tends to be a lot less.
Rae (2002) speaks of the 'Training Evaluation Quintet' advocated consists of:
• Senior management
• The trainer
• Line management
• The training manager
• The trainee
According to Rae (2002) each has their responsibilities, which are detailed next. Thus, it is important for the consultant/trainer to understand the overall evaluation process and her or his role in the process.
Senior management - training evaluation responsibilities
• Awareness of the need and value of training to the organization.
• The necessity of involving the Training Manager (or equivalent) in senior management meetings where decisions are made about future changes when training will be essential.
• Knowledge of and support of training plans.
• Active participation in events.
• Requirement for evaluation to be performed and require regular summary report.
• Policy and strategic decisions based on results and ROI data.
The trainer/Consultant - training evaluation responsibilities
• Provision of any necessary pre-programme work etc and programme planning.
• Identification at the start of the programme of the knowledge and skills level of the trainees/learners.
• Provision of training and learning resources to enable the learners to learn within the objectives of the programme and the learners' own objectives.
• Monitoring the learning as the programme progresses.
• At the end of the programme, assessment of and receipt of reports from the learners of the learning levels achieved.
• Ensuring the production by the learners of an action plan to reinforce, practice and implement learning.
• Kirkpatrick's learning evaluation model
• Bloom's Taxonomy of learning domains
The line manager - training evaluation responsibilities
• Work-needs and people identification.
• Involvement in training programme and evaluation development.
• Support of pre-event preparation and holding briefing meetings with the learner.
• Giving ongoing, and practical, support to the training programme.
• Holding a debriefing meeting with the learner on their return to work to discuss, agree or help to modify and agree action for their action plan.
• Reviewing the progress of learning implementation.
• Final review of implementation success and assessment, where possible, of the ROI.
The training manager - training evaluation responsibilities
• Management of the training department and agreeing the training needs and the programme application
• Maintenance of interest and support in the planning and implementation of the programmes, including a practical involvement where required
• The introduction and maintenance of evaluation systems, and production of regular reports for senior management
• Frequent, relevant contact with senior management
• Liaison with the learners' line managers and arrangement of learning implementation responsibility learning programmes for the managers
• Liaison with line managers, where necessary, in the assessment of the training ROI.
The trainee or learner - training evaluation responsibilities
• Involvement in the planning and design of the training programme where possible
• Involvement in the planning and design of the evaluation process where possible
• Obviously, to take interest and an active part in the training programme or activity.
• To complete a personal action plan during and at the end of the training for implementation on return to work, and to put this into practice, with support from the line manager.
• Take interest and support the evaluation processes.
N.B. Although the principal role of the trainee in the programme is to learn, the learner must be involved in the evaluation process. This is essential, since without their comments much of the evaluation could not occur. Neither would the new knowledge and skills be implemented. For trainees to neglect either responsibility the business wastes its investment in training. Trainees will assist more readily if the process avoids the look and feel of a paper chase or number-crunching exercise. Instead, make sure trainees understand the importance of their input - exactly what and why they are being asked to do. http://www.businessballs.com/trainingprogramevaluation.htm

2. Describe some of the techniques you would expect the consultants to introduce when they describe the ways in which they plan to evaluate and validate the training.
Training evaluation and validation options
As suggested earlier what you are able to do, rather than what you would like to do or what should be done, will depend on the various resources and culture support available. However, most interviewers would expect the trainer/consultant to know a wide range of evaluation and validation options to choose from.
Rae (2002) summarizes a spectrum of possibilities within these dependencies, which the consultant should have knowledge about, but clearly some are more appropriate than others:
1 - do nothing
Doing nothing to measure the effectiveness and result of any business activity is never a good option, but it is perhaps justifiable in the training area under the following circumstances:
• If the organization, even when prompted, displays no interest in the evaluation and validation of the training and learning - from the line manager up to to the board of directors.
• If you, as the trainer, have a solid process for planning training to meet organizational and people-development needs.
• If you have a reasonable level of assurance or evidence that the training being delivered is fit for purpose, gets results, and that the organization (notably the line managers and the board, the potential source of criticism and complaint) is happy with the training provision.
• You have far better things to do than carry out training evaluation, particularly if evaluation is difficult and co-operation is sparse.
However, even in these circumstances, there may come a time when having kept a basic system of evaluation will prove to be helpful, for example:
• You receive have a sudden unexpected demand for a justification of a part or all of the training activity. (These demands can spring up, for example with a change in ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the most important considerations in hiring a consultant services to provide training to employees. It also describes some of the techniques that might be used to evaluate and validate the employee training programs. Finally, it discusses how the consultant service might integrate technology in the processes of gathering or analyzing data. Many examples are provided.

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