What are the key issues that should be addressed in the
design conduct and evaluate of training programs?
Answer / irum
training programme evaluation
training and learning evaluation, feedback forms, action
plans and follow-up
This section begins with an introduction to training and
learning evaluation, including some useful learning
reference models. The introduction also explains that for
training evaluation to be truly effective, the training and
development itself must be appropriate for the person and
the situation. Good modern personal development and
evaluation extend beyond the obvious skills and knowledge
required for the job or organisation or qualification.
Effective personal development must also consider:
individual potential (natural abilities often hidden or
suppressed); individual learning styles; and whole person
development (life skills, in other words). Where training
or teaching seeks to develop people (rather than merely
being focused on a specific qualification or skill) the
development must be approached on a more flexible and
individual basis than in traditional paternalistic
(authoritarian, prescribed) methods of design, delivery and
testing. These principles apply to teaching and developing
young people too, which interestingly provides some useful
lessons for workplace training, development and evaluation.
A vital aspect of any sort of evaluation is its effect on
the person being evaluated.
Feedback is essential for people to know how they are
progressing, and also, evaluation is crucial to the
learner's confidence too.
And since people's commitment to learning relies so heavily
on confidence and a belief that the learning is achievable,
the way that tests and assessments are designed and
managed, and results presented back to the learners, is a
very important part of the learning and development
People can be switched off the whole idea of learning and
development very quickly if they receive only negative
critical test results and feedback. Always look for
positives in negative results. Encourage and support -
don't criticize without adding some positives, and
certainly never focus on failure, or that's just what
This is a much overlooked factor in all sorts of evaluation
and testing, and since this element is not typically
included within evaluation and assessment tools the point
is emphasised point loud and clear here.
So always remember - evaluation is not just for the trainer
or teacher or organisation or policy-makers - evaluation is
absolutely vital for the learner too, which is perhaps the
most important reason of all for evaluating people
properly, fairly, and with as much encouragement as the
Most of the specific content and tools below for workplace
training evaluation is based on the work of Leslie Rae, an
expert and author on the evaluation of learning and
training programmes, and this contribution is greatly
appreciated. W Leslie Rae has written over 30 books on
training and the evaluation of learning - he is an expert
in his field. His guide to the effective evaluation of
training and learning, training courses and learning
programmes, is a useful set of rules and techniques for all
trainers and HR professionals.
This training evaluation guide is augmented by an excellent
set of free learning evaluation and follow-up tools,
created by Leslie Rae.
There are other training evaluation working files on the
free resources page.
It is recommended that you read this article before using
the free evaluation and training follow-up tools.
See also the section on Donald Kirkpatrick's training
evaluation model, which represents fundamental theory and
principles for evaluating learning and training.
Also see Bloom's Taxonomy of learning domains, which
establishes fundamental principles for training design and
evaluation of learning, and thereby, training
Erik Erikson's Psychosocial (Life Stages) Theory is very
helpful in understanding how people's training and
development needs change according to age and stage of
life. These generational aspects are increasingly important
in meeting people's needs (now firmly a legal requirement
within age discrimination law) and also in making the most
of what different age groups can offer work and
organisations. Erikson's theory is helpful particularly
when considering broader personal development needs and
possibilities outside of the obvious job-related skills and
Multiple Intelligence theory (section includes free self-
tests) is extremely relevant to training and learning. This
model helps address natural abilities and individual
potential which can be hidden or suppressed in many people
(often by employers).
Learning Styles theory is extremely relevant to training
and teaching, and features in Kolb's model, and in the VAK
learning styles model (also including a free self-test
tool). Learning Styles theory also relates to methods of
assessment and evaluation, in which inappropriate testing
can severely skew results. Testing, as well as delivery,
must take account of people's learning styles, for example
some people find it very difficult to prove their
competence in a written test, but can show remarkable
competence when asked to give a physical demonstration.
Text-based evaluation tools are not the best way to assess
The Conscious Competence learning stages theory is also a
helpful perspective for learners and teachers. The model
helps explain the process of learning to trainers and to
learners, and is also helps to refine judgements about
competence, since competence is rarely a simple question
of 'can or cannot'. The Conscious Competence model
particularly provides encouragement to teachers and
learners when feelings of frustration arise due to apparent
lack of progress. Progress is not always easy to see, but
can often be happening nevertheless.
lessons from (and perhaps also for) children's education
While these various theories and models are chiefly
presented here for adult work-oriented training, the
principles also apply to children's and young people's
education, which provides some useful fundamental lessons
for workplace training and development.
Notably, while evaluation and assessment are vital of
course (because if you can't measure it you can't manage
it) the most important thing of all is to be training and
developing the right things in the right ways. Assessment
and evaluation (and children's testing) will not ensure
effective learning and development if the training and
development has not been properly designed in the first
Lessons for the workplace are everywhere you look within
children's education, so please forgive this diversion..
If children's education in the UK ever actually worked
well, successive governments managed to wreck it by the
1980s, and have made it worse since then. This was achieved
by the imposition of a ridiculously narrow range of skills
and delivery methods, plus similarly narrowly-based testing
criteria and targets, and a self-defeating administrative
burden. All of this perfectly characterises arrogance and
delusion found in X-Theory management structures, in this
case of high and mighty civil servants and politicians, who
are not in the real world, and who never went to normal
school and whose kids didn't either. A big lesson from this
for organisations and workplace training is that X-Theory
directives and narrow-mindedness are a disastrous
combination. Incidentally, according to some of these same
people, society is broken and our schools and parents are
to blame and are responsible for sorting out the mess.
Blaming the victims is another classic behaviour of inept
governance. Society is not broken; it just lacks some
proper responsible leadership, which is another interesting
The quality of any leadership (government or organisation)
is defined by how it develops its people. Good leaders have
a responsibility to help people understand, develop and
fulfil their own individual potential. This is very
different to just training them to do a job, or teaching
them to pass an exam and get into university, which ignores
far more important human and societal needs and
Thankfully modern educational thinking (and let's hope
policy too) now seems to be addressing the wider
development needs of the individual child, rather than
aiming merely to transfer knowledge in order to pass tests
and exams. Knowledge transfer for the purpose of passing
tests and exams, especially when based on such an arbitrary
and extremely narrow idea of what should be taught and how,
has little meaning or relevance to the development
potential and needs of most young people, and even less
relevance to the demands and opportunities of the real
modern world, let alone the life skills required to become
a fulfilled confident adult able to make a positive
contribution to society.
The desperately flawed UK children's education system of
the past thirty years, and its negative impacts on society,
offer many useful lessons for organisations. Perhaps most
significantly, if you fail to develop people as
individuals, and only aim to transfer knowledge and skills
to meet the organisational priorities of the day, then you
will seriously hamper your chances of fostering a happy
productive society within your workforce, assuming you want
to, which I guess is another subject altogether.
Assuming you do want to develop a happy and productive
workforce, it's useful to consider and learn from the
mistakes that have been made in children's education:
• the range of learning is far too narrowly defined
and ignores individual potential, which is then devalued or
• the range of learning focuses on arbitrary criteria
set from the policy-makers' own perspectives (classic
arrogant X-Theory management - it's stifling and
• policy-makers give greatest or exclusive priority
to the obvious 'academic' intelligences (reading, writing,
arithmetic, etc), when other of the multiple intelligences
(notably interpersonal and intrapersonal capabilities,
helpfully encompassed by emotional intelligence) arguably
have a far bigger value in work and society (and certainly
cause more problems in work and society if under-developed)
• testing and assessment of learners and teachers is
measuring the wrong things, too narrowly, in the wrong way -
like measuring the weather with a thermometer
• testing (the wrong sort, although none would be
appropriate for this) is used to assess and pronounce
people's fundamental worth - which quite obviously directly
affects self-esteem, confidence, ambition, dreams, life
purpose, etc (nothing too serious then..)
• wider individual development needs - especially
life needs - are ignored (many organisations and
educational policy-makers seem to think that people are
robots and that their work and personal lives are not
connected; and that work is unaffected by feelings of well-
being or depression, etc)
• individual learning styles are ignored (learning is
delivered mainly through reading and writing when many
people are far better at learning through experience,
observation, etc - again see Kolb and VAK)
• testing and assessment focuses on proof of
knowledge in a distinctly unfair situation only helpful to
certain types of people, rather than assessing people's
application, interpretation and development of
capabilities, which is what real life requires (see
Kirkpatrick's model - and consider the significance of
assessing what people do with their improved capability,
beyond simply assessing whether they've retained the
theory, which means relatively very little)
• children's education has traditionally ignored the
fact that developing confident happy productive people is
much easier if primarily you help people to discover what
they are good at - whatever it is - and then building on
Teaching, training and learning must be aligned with
individual potential, individual learning styles, and wider
life development needs, and this wide flexible individual
approach to human development is vital for the workplace,
just as it is for schools.
Returning to consider workplace training itself, and the
work of Leslie Rae:
evaluation of workplace learning and training
There have been many surveys on the use of evaluation in
training and development (see the research findings extract
example below). While surveys might initially appear
heartening, suggesting that many trainers/organisations use
training evaluation extensively, when more specific and
penetrating questions are asked, it if often the case that
many professional trainers and training departments are
found to use only 'reactionnaires' (general vague feedback
forms), including the invidious 'Happy Sheet' relying on
questions such as 'How good did you feel the trainer was?',
and 'How enjoyable was the training course?'. As
Kirkpatrick, among others, teaches us, even well-produced
reactionnaires do not constitute proper validation or
evaluation of training.
For effective training and learning evaluation, the
principal questions should be:
• To what extent were the identified training needs
objectives achieved by the programme?
• To what extent were the learners' objectives
• 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
And back at work,
• How successful were the trainees in implementing
their action plans?
• To what extent were they supported in this by their
• To what extent has the action listed above achieved
a Return on Investment (ROI) for the organization, either
in terms of identified objectives satisfaction or, where
possible, a monetary assessment.
Organizations commonly fail to perform these evaluation
processes, especially where:
• The HR department and trainers, do not have
sufficient time to do so, and/or
• The HR department does not have sufficient
resources - people and money - to do so.
Obviously the evaluation cloth must be cut according to
available resources (and the culture atmosphere), which
tend to vary substantially from one organization to
another. The fact remains that good methodical evaluation
produces a good reliable data; conversely, where little
evaluation is performed, little is ever known about the
effectiveness of the training.
evaluation of training
There are the two principal factors which need to be
• Who is responsible for the validation and
• 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.)
responsibility for the evaluation of training
Traditionally, in the main, any evaluation or other
assessment has been left to the trainers "because that is
their job..." My (Rae'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.
The 'Training Evaluation Quintet' advocated consists of:
• senior management
• the trainer
• line management
• the training manager
• the trainee
Each has their own responsibilities, which are detailed
senior management - training evaluation responsibilities
• Awareness of the need and value of training to the
• The necessity of involving the Training Manager (or
equivalent) in senior management meetings where decisions
are made about future changes when training will be
• 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
the trainer - 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
• At the end of the programme, assessment of and
receipt of reports from the learners of the learning levels
• Ensuring the production by the learners of an
action plan to reinforce, practise and implement learning.
the line manager - training evaluation responsibilities
• Work-needs and people identification.
• Involvement in training programme and evaluation
• Support of pre-event preparation and holding
briefing meetings with the learner.
• Giving ongoing, and practical, support to the
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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.
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. The following summarizes a spectrum of
possibilities within these dependencies.
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
• 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-
• 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
• You have far better things to do than carry out
training evaluation, particularly if evaluation is
difficult and cooperation 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
management, or policy, or a new initiative).
• You see the opportunity or need to produce your own
justification (for example to increase training resource,
staffing or budgets, new premises or equipment).
• You seek to change job and need evidence of the
effectiveness of your past training activities.
Doing nothing is always the least desirable option. At any
time somebody more senior to you might be moved to ask "Can
you prove what you are saying about how successful you
are?" Without evaluation records you are likely to be at a
loss for words of proof...
2 - minimal action
The absolutely basic action for a start of some form of
evaluation is as follows:
At the end of every training programme, give the learners
sufficient time and support in the form of programme
information, and have the learners complete an action plan
based on what they have learned on the programme and what
they intend to implement on their return to work. This
action plan should not only include a description of the
action intended but comments on how they intend to
implement it, a timescale for starting and completing it,
and any resources required, etc. A fully detailed action
plan always helps the learners to consolidate their
thoughts. The action plan will have a secondary use in
demonstrating to the trainers, and anyone else interested,
the types and levels of learning that have been achieved.
The learners should also be encouraged to show and discuss
their action plans with their line managers on return to
work, whether or not this type of follow-up has been
initiated by the manager.
3 - minimal desirable action leading to evaluation
When returning to work to implement the action plan the
learner should ideally be supported by their line manager,
rather than have the onus for implementation rest entirely
on the learner. The line manager should hold a debriefing
meeting with the learner soon after their return to work,
covering a number of questions, basically discussing and
agreeing the action plan and arranging support for the
learner in its implementation. As described earlier, this
is a clear responsibility of the line manager, which
demonstrates to senior management, the training department
and, certainly not least, the learner, that a positive
attitude is being taken to the training. Contrast this
with, as often happens, a member of staff being sent on a
training course, after which all thoughts of management
follow-up are forgotten.
The initial line manager debriefing meeting is not the end
of the learning relationship between the learner and the
line manager. At the initial meeting, objectives and
support must be agreed, then arrangements made for interim
reviews of implementation progress. After this when
appropriate, a final review meeting needs to consider
This process requires minimal action by the line manager -
it involves no more than the sort of observations being
made as would be normal for a line manager monitoring the
actions of his or her staff. This process of review
meetings requires little extra effort and time from the
manager, but does much to demonstrate at the very least to
the staff that their manager takes training seriously.
4 - training programme basic validation approach
The action plan and implementation approach described in
(3) above is placed as a responsibility on the learners and
their line managers, and, apart from the provision of
advice and time, do not require any resource involvement
from the trainer. There are two further parts of an
approach which also require only the provision of time for
the learners to describe their feelings and information.
The first is the reactionnaire which seeks the views,
opinions, feelings, etc., of the learners about the
programme. This is not at a 'happy sheet' level, nor a
simple tick-list - but one which allows realistic feelings
to be stated.
This sort of reactionnaire is described in the book
('Assessing the Value of Your Training', Leslie Rae, Gower,
2002). This evaluation seeks a score for each question
against a 6-point range of Good to Bad, and also the
learners' own reasons for the scores, which is especially
important if the score is low.
Reactionnaires should not be automatic events on every
course or programme. This sort of evaluation can be
reserved for new programmes (for example, the first three
events) or when there are indications that something is
going wrong with the programme.
Sample reactionnaires are available in the set of free
training evaluation tools.
The next evaluation instrument, like the action plan,
should be used at the end of every course if possible. This
is the Learning Questionnaire (LQ), which can be a
relatively simple instrument asking the learners what they
have learned on the programme, what they have been usefully
reminded of, and what was not included that they expected
to be included, or would have liked to have been included.
Scoring ranges can be included, but these are minimal and
are subordinate to the text comments made by the learners.
There is an alternative to the LQ called the Key Objectives
LQ (KOLQ) which seeks the amount of learning achieved by
posing the relevant questions against the list of Key
Objectives produced for the programme. When a reactionnaire
and LQ/KOLQ are used, they must not be filed away and
forgotten at the end of the programme, as is the common
tendency, but used to produce a training evaluation and
validation summary. A factually-based evaluation summary is
necessary to support claims that a programme is
good/effective/satisfies the objectives set'. Evaluation
summaries can also be helpful for publicity for the
training programme, etc.
Example Learning Questionnaires and Key Objectives Learning
Questionnaires are included in the set of free evaluation
5 - total evaluation process
If it becomes necessary the processes described in (3) and
(4) can be combined and supplemented by other methods to
produce a full evaluation process that covers all
eventualities. Few occasions or environments allow this
full process to be applied, particularly when there is no
Quintet support, but it is the ultimate aim. The process is
• Training needs identification and setting of
objectives by the organization
• Planning, design and preparation of the training
programmes against the objectives
• Pre-course identification of people with needs and
completion of the preparation required by the training
• Provision of the agreed training programmes
• Pre-course briefing meeting between learner and
• Pre-course or start of programme identification of
learners' existing knowledge, skills and attitudes, ('3-
Test' before-and-after training example tool and manual
version and working file version)
• Interim validation as programme proceeds
• Assessment of terminal knowledge, skills, etc., and
completion of perceptions/change assessment ('3-Test'
example tool and manual version and working file version)
• Completion of end-of-programme reactionnaire
• Completion of end-of-programme Learning
Questionnaire or Key Objectives Learning Questionnaire
• Completion of Action Plan
• Post-course debriefing meeting between learner and
• Line manager observation of implementation progress
• Review meetings to discuss progress of
• Final implementation review meeting
• Assessment of ROI
Whatever you do, do something. The processes described
above allow considerable latitude depending on resources
and culture environment, so there is always the opportunity
to do something - obviously the more tools used and the
wider the approach, the more valuable and effective the
evaluation will be. However be pragmatic. Large expensive
critical programmes will always justify more evaluation and
scrutiny than small, one-off, non-critical training
activities. Where there's a heavy investment and
expectation, so the evaluation should be sufficiently
detailed and complete. Training managers particularly
should clarify measurement and evaluation expectations with
senior management prior to embarking on substantial new
training activities, so that appropriate evaluation
processes can be established when the programme itself is
Where large and potentially critical programmes are
planned, training managers should err on the side of
caution - ensure adequate evaluation processes are in
place. As with any investment, a senior executive is always
likely to ask, "What did we get for our investment?", and
when he asks, the training manager needs to be able to
provide a fully detailed response.
the trainer's overall responsibilities - aside from
Over the years the trainer's roles have changed, but the
basic purpose of the trainer is to provide efficient and
effective training programmes. The following suggests the
elements of the basic role of the trainer, but it must be
borne in mind that different circumstances will require
modifications of these activities.
1. The basic role of a trainer (or however they may be
designated) is to offer and provide efficient and effective
training programmes aimed at enabling the participants to
learn the knowledge, skills and attitudes required of them.
2. A trainer plans and designs the training programmes, or
otherwise obtains them (for example, distance learning or e-
technology programmes on the Internet or on CD/DVD), in
accordance with the requirements identified from the
results of a TNIA (Training Needs Identification and
Analysis - or simply TNA, Training Needs Analysis) for the
relevant staff of an organizations or organizations.
3. The training programmes cited at (1) and (2) must be
completely based on the TNIA which has been: (a) completed
by the trainer on behalf of and at the request of the
relevant organization (b) determined in some other way by
4. Following discussion with or direction by the
organization management who will have taken into account
costs and values (e.g. ROI - Return on Investment in the
training), the trainer will agree with the organization
management the most appropriate form and methods for the
5 . If the appropriate form for satisfying the training
need is a direct training course or workshop, or an
Intranet provided programme, the trainer will design this
programme using the most effective approaches, techniques
and methods, integrating face-to-face practices with
various forms of e-technology wherever this is possible or
6. If the appropriate form for satisfying the training need
is some form of open learning programme or e-technology
programme, the trainer, with the support of the
organization management obtain, plan the utilization and be
prepared to support the learner in the use of the relevant
7. The trainer, following contact with the potential
learners, preferably through their line managers, to seek
some pre-programme activity and/or initial evaluation
activities, should provide the appropriate training
programme(s) to the learners provided by their organization
(s). During and at the end of the programme, the trainer
should ensure that: (a) an effective form of
training/learning validation is followed (b) the learners
complete an action plan for implementation of their
learning when they return to work.
8. Provide, as necessary, having reviewed the validation
results, an analysis of the changes in the knowledge,
skills and attitudes of the learners to the organization
management with any recommendations deemed necessary. The
review would include consideration of the effectiveness of
the content of the programme and the effectiveness of the
methods used to enable learning, that is whether the
programme satisfied the objectives of the programme and
those of the learners.
9. Continue to provide effective learning opportunities as
required by the organization.
10. Enable their own CPD (Continuing Professional
Development) by all possible developmental means - training
programmes and self-development methods.
11. Arrange and run educative workshops for line managers
on the subject of their fulfillment of their training and
Dependant on the circumstances and the decisions of the
organization management, trainers do not, under normal
1. Make organizational training decisions without the full
agreement of the organizational management.
2. Take part in the post-programme learning implementation
or evaluation unless the learners' line managers cannot or
will not fulfil their training and evaluation
Unless circumstances force them to behave otherwise, the
trainer's role is to provide effective training programmes
and the role of the learners' line managers is to continue
the evaluation process after the training programme,
counsel and support the learner in the implementation of
their learning, and assess the cost-value effectiveness or
(where feasible) the ROI of the training. Naturally, if
action will help the trainers to become more effective in
their training, they can take part in but not run any pre-
and post-programme actions as described, always remembering
that these are the responsibilities of the line manager.
leslie rae's further references and recommended reading
Annett, Duncan, Stammers and Gray, Task Analysis, Training
Information Paper 6, HMSO, 1971.
Bartram, S. and Gibson, B., Training Needs Analysis, 2nd
edition, Gower, 1997.
Bartram, S. and Gibson, B., Evaluating Training, Gower,
Bee, Frances and Roland, Training Needs Analysis and
Evaluation, Institute of Personnel and Development, 1994.
Boydell, T. H., A Guide to the Identification of Training
Needs, BACIE, 1976.
Boydell, T. H., A Guide to Job Analysis, BACIE, 1970. A
companion booklet to A Guide to the Identification of
Bramley, Peter, Evaluating Training Effectiveness, McGraw-
Buckley, Roger and Caple, Jim, The Theory and Practice of
Training, Kogan Page, 1990.(Chapters 8 and 9)
Craig, Malcolm, Analysing Learning Needs, Gower, 1994.
Davies, I. K., The Management of Learning, McGraw-Hill,
1971. (Chapters 14 and 15.)
Easterby-Smith, M., Braiden, E. M. and Ashton, D., Auditing
Management Development, Gower, 1980.
Easterby-Smith, M., 'How to Use Repertory Grids in HRD',
Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol 4, No 2, 1980.
Easterby-Smith, M., Evaluating Management Development,
Training and Education, 2nd edition, Gower, 1994.
Fletcher, Shirley, NVQs Standards and Competence, 2nd
edition, Kogan Page, 1994.
Hamblin, A. C., The Evaluation and Control of Training,
Honey, P., 'The Repertory Grid in Action', Industrial and
Commercial Training, Vol II, Nos 9, 10 and 11, 1979.
ITOL, A Glossary of UK Training and Occupational Learning
Terms, ed. J. Brooks, ITOL, 2000.
Kelly, G.A., The Psychology of Personal Constructs, Norton,
Kirkpatrick, D. L., 'Evaluation of Training', in Training
and Development Handbook, edited by R. L. Craig, McGraw-
Kirkpatrick, D.L., Evaluating Training Programs: The four
levels, Berrett-Koehler, 1996.
Laird, D., Approaches to Training and Development, Addison-
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The core content and tools relating to workplace training
evaluation is based on the work of Leslie Rae, MPhil,
Chartered FCIPD, FITOL, which is gratefully acknowledged.
Leslie Rae welcomes comments and enquiries about the
subject of training and its evaluation, and can be
contacted via businessballs or direct: Wrae804418 at aol
a note about ROI (return on investment) in training
Attempting financial ROI assessment of training is a
controversial issue. It's a difficult task to do in
absolute terms due to the many aspects to be taken into
account, some of which are very difficult to quantify at
all, let alone to define in precise financial terms.
Investment - the cost - in training may be easier to
identify, but the benefits - the return - are notoriously
tricky to pin down. What value do you place on improved
morale? Reduced stress levels? Longer careers? Better
qualified staff? Improved time management? All of these can
be benefits - returns - on training investment. Attaching a
value and relating this to a single cause, i.e., training,
is often impossible. At best therefore, many training ROI
assessments are necessarily 'best estimates'.
If ROI-type measures are required in areas where reliable
financial assessment is not possible, it's advisable to
agree a 'best possible' approach, or a 'notional indicator'
and then ensure this is used consistently from occasion to
occasion, year on year, course to course, allowing at least
a comparison of like with like to be made, and trends to be
spotted, even if financial data is not absolutely accurate.
In the absence of absolutely quantifiable data, find
something that will provide a useful if notional
indication. For example, after training sales people, the
increased number and value of new sales made is an
indicator of sorts. After motivational or team-building
training, reduced absentee rates would be an expected
output. After an extensive management development
programme, the increase in internal management promotions
would be a measurable return. Find something to measure,
rather than say it can't be done at all, but be pragmatic
and limit the time and resource spent according to the
accuracy and reliability of the input and output data.
Also, refer to the very original Training Needs Analysis
that prompted the training itself - what were the business
performance factors that the training sought to improve?
Use these original drivers to measure and relate to
organizational return achieved.
The problems in assessing ROI are more challenging in
public and non-profit-making organizations - government
departments, charities, voluntary bodies, etc. ROI
assessment in these environments can be so difficult as to
be insurmountable, so that the organization remains
satisfied with general approximations or vague comparisons,
or accepts wider forms of justification for the training
without invoking detailed costing.
None of this is to say that cost- and value-effectiveness
assessment should not be attempted. At the very least,
direct costs must be controlled within agreed budgets, and
if it is possible, attempts at more detailed returns should
It may be of some consolation to know that Jack Philips, an
American ROI 'guru', recently commented about training
ROI: "Organisations should be considering implementing ROI
impact studies very selectively on only 5 to 10 per cent of
their training programme, otherwise it becomes incredibly
expensive and resource intensive."
training evaluation research
This research extract is an example of the many survey
findings that indicate the need to improve evaluation of
training and learning. It is useful to refer to the
Kirkpatrick Learning Evaluation model to appreciate the
different stages at which learning and training
effectiveness should be evaluated.
Research published the UK's British Learning Association in
May 2006 found that 72% (of a representative sample) of the
UK's leading learning professionals considered that
learning tends not to lead to change.
Only 51% of respondents said that learning and training was
evaluated several months after the learning or training
The survey was carried out among delegates of the 2006
conference of the UK's British Learning Association.
Speaking on the findings, David Wolfson, Chairman of the
British Learning Association said, "These are worrying
figures from the country's leading learning professionals.
If they really do reflect training in the UK, then we have
to think long and hard about how to make the changes that
training is meant to give. It suggests that we have to do
more - much more - to ensure that learning interventions
really make a difference..."
The British Learning Association is a centre of expertise
that produces best practice examples, identifies trends and
disseminates information on both innovative and well-
established techniques and technologies for learning. The
aim is to synthesise existing knowledge, develop original
solutions and disseminate this to a wide cross sector
There are many different ways to assess and evaluate
training and learning.
Remember that evaluation is for the learner too -
evaluation is not just for the trainer or organisation.
Feedback and test results help the learner know where they
are, and directly affect the learner's confidence and their
determination to continue with the development - in some
cases with their own future personal development altogether.
Central to improving training and learning is the question
of bringing more meaning and purpose to people's lives,
aside from merely focusing on skills and work-related
development and training courses.
Learning and training enables positive change and
improvement - for people and employers - when people's work
is aligned with people's lives - their strengths, personal
potential, goals and dreams - outside work as well as at
Evaluation of training can only effective if the training
itself is effective and appropriate. Testing the wrong
things in the wrong way will give you unhelpful data, and
could be even more unhelpful for learners.
Consider people's learning styles when evaluating personal
development. Learning styles are essentially a perspective
of people's preferred working, thinking and communicating
styles. Written tests do not enable all types of people to
demonstrate their competence.
Evaluating retention of knowledge only is a very limited
form of assessment. It will not indicate how well people
apply their learning and development in practice. Revisit
Kirkpatrick's Theory and focus as much as you can on how
the learning and development is applied, and the change and
improvements achieved, in the working situation.
See the notes about organisational change and ethical
leadership to help understand and explain these principles
further, and how to make learning and development more
meaningful and appealing for people.
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