Training Evaluation Plan – The Evaluation Questions
Training Evaluation: Posted by Dave Basarab on Mon, Aug 08, 2011, V.A.L.E. Consulting
My next series of blog articles will cover steps and techniques for creating a Training Evaluation Plan. I hope you find them useful. As always I welcome your comments.
So you’ve decided that you’re going to do a Predictive Evaluation (PE), and, yikes, it is your first one! First, answer these questions:
- Will PE be used in deciding whether or not to move forward with training?
- Why is the evaluation being done; that is, what decisions does the company want to make during the evaluation?
- Who are the key stakeholders who should receive evaluation reports? What do they want from the evaluation?
- What elements of a PE will provide the data to aid in the decisions that you and/or stakeholders want to make?
- When is the information needed?
- What resources are available to conduct the evaluation? Can a Steering Committee be formed to aid with the evaluation? Will internal resources be used or will you employ external evaluation resources?
- Is funding available? What projects will be delayed or not done if PE is implemented?
- What existing evaluation practices are in place? Can they be leveraged and used in the PE? Will PE replace some of these practices?
The answers to the questions attempt to get at the purpose of the evaluation and what is prompting it. Implementing your first Predictive Evaluation can be a bit intimidating, but, as with any effort, it gets easier and quicker as you do it. If you would like to ease into PE efforts, start with Intentions Evaluation and then move to an Adoption effort; finally, try an Impact Evaluation. No matter what evaluation element you pick, make sure that you always start with Predicting.
Next, you need a plan of action—the PE Plan. The key to a successful PE is in the planning. Often, evaluation planning is ignored in favor of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realize the value of an evaluation plan in saving time and money and preventing problems.
A PE is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met. A stakeholder is anybody directly or indirectly impacted by the evaluation. As a first step, it is important to identify the stakeholders for your PE. It is not always easy to identify the stakeholders of an evaluation, particularly those impacted indirectly. Examples of stakeholders are as follows:
- The Head of the Training and Development organization
- Key executives from various business units or staff functions
- Note: these may be represented by a Steering Committee or other such body
- Instructional designers, course developers, and instructors (internal or external)
- External training suppliers (to a lesser extent)
Once you understand who the stakeholders are, the next step is to establish their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews. The questions that you ask stakeholders can depend on (1) who you are talking to and (2) how they fit into the overall picture. When formulating stakeholder questions, ask yourself the following:
- What do you want to find out?
- How many people can you interview?
- What will you do with the data to help guide the PE?
- What is the underlying reason for asking a specific question?
- Some questions that you may wish to use with the stakeholders are as follows:
- What business issue(s) is this training going to help in solving?
- Why does this issue exist?
- Why do you want an evaluation?
- What kind of information would you like to see from the evaluation?
- What decisions will you make based on this evaluation information?
- What is your timetable for getting evaluation information? How would you like to see it and receive it?
- Who else should I talk to?
Take time during the interviews to draw out the true needs that create real benefits. Often stakeholders talk about needs that aren’t relevant and don’t deliver benefits. These can be recorded and set as a low priority. The next step—once you have conducted all the stakeholder interviews and have a comprehensive list of needs—is to prioritize them. From the prioritized list, create a set of questions the evaluation will answer.
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