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Why Training Evaluation Matters: Understanding its Vital Role in Learning

Group of people around a computerOn average, companies spend $702 on training per employee, per year. That’s a lot of money. In fact, it’s enough money to start you out on your zombie-busting superhero career with a full kevlar bodysuit and a tailored cape to boot.

Yet, there’s more to evaluation than money. A proper evaluation can take a lot of time, and no doubt you’ve got a lot on your plate. But, even when you do have the time – learning evaluation can be a chore. This is partly why 84% of training managers admit they don’t devote enough time to training evaluation.

Why do we Neglect Training Evaluation?

Evaluations can be mathematical and seemingly uncreative, which might put some people off. But, aside from this, why do 84% of training managers ignore evaluation? There are loads of reasons – but here are five biggies:

1: Surface Scratching Evaluations

In our blog on the Kirkpatrick model we overview the four steps that make up a comprehensive evaluation. It’s often acknowledged that the first two steps are a lot easier to evaluate than the last two. Because of this learning training managers often overlook the last stage and don’t complete their evaluation.

2: Evaluation isn’t Seen as a Priority

Evaluation is often the first thing that training managers cut out from their schedule when they get pressed for time. If your job is to create learning content – then that’s what you’ll prioritise. This can leave training evaluation at the back of the queue.

3: Evaluating Learning can be Very Ambiguous

When you invest in something, you normally put money in and get money out. This makes measuring the return on your investment simple. With learning, you invest time and money, and out comes abstract metrics like increased productivity, soaring engagement levels, reduced employee turnover – and yes, increased sales and profits.

But, these metrics don’t always translate directly into the financial language that senior business people often use.

4: Training Managers Don’t Begin with Evaluation in Mind

If you don’t begin a training project with evaluation in mind then measuring and presenting the results can be almost impossible. For example, if you don’t know what the engagement levels were before you started your project – it will be very hard to tell how much they’ve improved.

5: Lots of LMSs make Evaluation Harder, Not Easier

Most LMSs will offer some kind of reporting functionality. But, to borrow Kirkpatrick’s language, they usually only measure the Reaction and Learning of a learner. Only the very best LMSs enable you to assess Behaviour change and the final Results of a learning programme. To do this you need a lean mean reporting machine!

Why You Should Evaluate your Training

So, there’s five juicy explanations why 84% of training managers aren’t giving evaluation enough time. Let’s now look at two reasons why you absolutely MUST evaluate your learning.

1: It Gives You the Recipe to Make your Training as Epic as Possible

Improving your online learning requires information and lots of it. This information should tell you which units learners completed, how well they did in quizzes and what their feedback was.

This lets you know what aspects of eLearning were successful. This is important because it helps you know what to replicate in future.

It also lets you know what needs to be improved. By collecting feedback from the learners, you can tweak learning to the point of perfection!

2: It Gives You Cold, Hard Proof

Learning and Development budgets aren’t always at the top of a CEO’s list of priorities. Regrettably, this means that training managers need to fight harder for their budgets than other departments. But, the weapon you need to fight this battle is proof, and an evaluation will give you the proof you need.

When you can use data to show how learning has benefitted your company then you’re in the position to fight back. If you can prove that your learning has paid for itself and transformed the company culture, then instead of cutting your budget, they’ll write songs about you and your wondrous learning.

Final Words

Evaluating training is hard. There’s a whole range of reasons you might put it off and leave it for next week… and then the next week…

But don’t. A comprehensive evaluation is proof that your training matters. It’s also the recipe to create even better training when it doesn’t quite cut the evaluative-mustard. Using a training evaluation framework can help you to get a better ROI.

Our knowledge-filled white paper on Delivering ROI has everything you need to know about training evaluation! Follow this link to find out how to translate your success into real numbers!

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