Training Evaluation – What Does It Tell Us? Not Much!
Most companies who do conduct evaluation of their training programs will stop at Level 2 evaluations (see graphic).
Level one evaluations are often called smile-sheets or butts-in-seats evaluations. They are realistically opinion gauges; they ask too many questions, including questions about the facilitator’s knowledge and skill, the quality of the learning materials, the comfort of the training room or delivery methodology (e.g. if it were eLearning), etc. Unfortunately, the responses provide little useable information in return. Smile-sheets could be revitalized and used to a better purpose with just a bit of tweaking of the questioning process.
Level two evaluations are intended to test knowledge. They are typically a type of test – either paper-and-pencil (or these days, computer generated) or a demonstration / performance of skill (for instance, if you are teaching an individual to run a cash register, you wouldn’t want to stop at simply asking them questions about cash register operations – you would want to see them physically operate the cash register as well).
The biggest drawback of Level two evaluations is that they realistically gauge short-term memory. They are typically distributed immediately after the training concludes, so most individuals have a relatively good chance of passing that type of evaluation.
Level three and Level four evaluations – those that assess whether the training is being used on the job and whether the intended business impact of the training was realized, are more complicated to design and administer and more often than not, simply not utilized in most businesses.
If you’d like to learn more about effective training evaluation, see this associated posted: How to Assess Real Results From Your Corporate Training.