Sunday, July 11, 2010

Are Evaluations Useless?

I had a great time in class, great snacks.
I read a lot of evaluations like that. Apparently the customer had a good time in class.

But did he learn anything?

I don't really care if they liked the snacks, or if they thought the class was "Excellent" or "Good."  That's not why they paid good money and took time away from their job to be there.  If that was my goal I would have catered the event and shown a popular movie on dvd.

The only real question I ask after a course is, "Was this a valuable use of your time?"

Customers are making an investment in themselves or their people by placing them in a training class.  They are expecting to learn something that will make their job easier or faster or more productive.  Anything else is simply entertainment.

Everyone in the industry has heard of Kirpatrick's 4 levels of evaluation:  Reaction, Learning, Behavior, Results.  Most people think that the "Level 4" evaluation is the ultimate goal - but they ignore one particular key factor: the effects on the business or environment resulting from the trainee's performance is completely dependent on the corporate culture and whether management will allow change based on the training.

The real benchmark for the instructional designer is behavior.  Did you get through to someone well enough to impact their behavior?

And that's why I ask the question, Are evaluations useless?

An evaluation only measures how someone feels as they are in class or just after.  And evaluations always ask questions about the room, the environment, the instructor.  They never ask behavior questions because you won't know about that for some time.  So why ask the question in the first place?

The only thing that you can measure on the way out is if the customer thought their time was spent in a valuable manner.  Chances are if they thought it was a valuable use of their time they have specific ideas in their head about how they will use the knowledge back at work.  And that's the very best you can do after a class.

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