5 Elements Of Measuring Engagement In Training Evaluation

The Importance Of Measuring Engagement In Training Evaluation

When a training manager or platform admin logs onto a Learning Management System, they have plenty of tasks to choose from. Maybe they’ll create a brand-new piece of content or begin the daily routine of running reports and analyzing data. Or perhaps they’re switched on to the idea of making the training experience more engaging, and they’ll spend the morning interacting with the learners. At some point they’ll need to take a step back and figure out where all of their efforts have gotten them. Evaluating the training is a critical part of any training initiative – without it, you’re simply taking a wild guess, crossing your fingers and hoping you’re right. Measuring engagement of learners is also a huge factor if you want the training to have any impact at all. At the very least, your learners should be able to retain the knowledge they gain from the training. If the learner doesn’t engage with the training (or more accurately, if the training doesn’t engage the learner), it won’t have any meaning and it’ll quickly get pushed out of their brains in favour of something that matters to them.

The challenge for a lot of training managers is realizing that training evaluation and learner engagement are closely connected. You might even go as far as to say that you can’t have one without the other. The good news is that, by forging a stronger link between the two, you can get much better results from your training initiatives.

Training Evaluation

In the dog-eat-dog world of upper management, training evaluation means one thing: Did the money spent on the training program generate a positive return on investment. This is easy if you’re measuring the impact of product training on sales figures, but what about the impact on behavior?

The Kirkpatrick Model1 of training evaluation is probably the most popular method of gauging the effectiveness of a training initiative and it’s comprised of 4 levels.

  1. Reaction.
    How did the learner perceive the training? Did they find it useful or relevant to their roles? At this level, the best results come when the training program is tailored for everyone.
  2. Learning.
    This level covers the knowledge the learner has gained because of the training. It’s important to note, however, that due to the forgetting curve, what they know immediately after the training can be worlds apart from what they know a few weeks later.
  3. Behaviour.
    This is the trickiest level to get right and in a lot of ways, it’s the most important part. Your employees can know every word in the staff handbook but if it has no impact on the learner’s behaviour, they’ll remain just that – words.
  4. Results.
    This is the only part of the training evaluation that your bosses are really interested in. Did the training deliver the organisational objective and was it worth investing in?

Measuring Engagement

As you’ve seen from Kirkpatrick’s model, the first level concerns the learner’s reaction to the training. When you’re wearing your ROI-seeking business hat, it might be tempting to downplay the importance of this stage.

However, if you want to improve your results and create better training initiatives each time, this is the stage that matters the most. Instead of just sending a post-training questionnaire, you should expand on this stage and really take the time to discover whether the learner really engaged with it.

Engagement is something that’s easy to fake and that’s precisely why survey results should be a part of a larger strategy. When you’re measuring engagement, you should also consider the following:

1. Completion Rate.

How many of your learners logged into your platform and completed the training? Did they access the system voluntarily, or did you have to keep reminding them that the training existed? A low completion rate isn’t always the learner’s fault and in many cases, the Learning Management System didn’t have the tools to communicate with them effectively.

2. Frequency Of Logins.

How often do your learners log into the Learning Management System? If they’re only logging on to complete a piece of content, then the system isn’t delivering the best value. An online learning platform should be designed for the reality that learning is a continuous process – not just a once-off intervention.

3. Self-Led Learning.

Do your learners just look at the assets that have been assigned to them, or do they hungrily search for more knowledge? If you have lots of content, but you can’t seem to keep your learners satisfied, it’s a good sign that they find the existing content engaging and they want to learn more.

4. Asking Questions.

Do your learners voluntarily ask questions to clarify details of the training? Contrary to what you might think, this isn’t a sign that your training program was incomplete. As most of workplace learning happens outside of the formal training structure, you should be doing all you can to capture the informal learning that happens on a daily basis. Opening channels of communication between the learners and the training department is essential if you want your learning management system to really pay for itself.

5. Content Creation.

Do your learners create their own learning content to help their colleagues? This is the true mark of a successful training initiative. Instead of seeking to give your learners a message, you should instead try to spark off a dialogue. There’s every chance that someone in your business has a vital piece of knowledge that’s missing from the training program.

Final Word

It’s a mistake to view the training program as a spoon to feed your learners with. Although it’s important that your training is delivering organisational objectives, behavioural change is seldom that straightforward. When you’re evaluating your training, don’t simply see it as a A-to-B journey – employee engagement is a bigger part of the puzzle than you might think. Spend a little more time on getting that right and you’ll reap the rewards!

References

  1. The Kirkpatrick Model
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