Training Metrics Used By Instructional Designers To Evaluate Learning Programs

Training Metrics Used By Instructional Designers To Evaluate Learning Programs
Summary: In this article, you'll find recommendations to help you show the value of your learning initiatives through the use of training metrics. You can also use these recommendations to design and develop more effective learning for your audience.

Use Training Metrics To Improve Learning Outcomes

As a learning and development professional, you know that there are many potential definitions of “success” for a training program. The goals, objectives, and vision for your learning program will be based on the needs of the organization. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to put in place the training metrics needed to measure the results of their programs—either because they don’t have the resources to support the initiative, or just don’t know how to link the training metrics with learning outcomes.

So, how do you use training metrics to show ROI, set and meet benchmarks for success, and provide evidence of the value of your learning program to learners and decision-makers? There are methods you can use to track training metrics and tie them to real business impact. Let’s start with a basic outline of how we determine appropriate training metrics based on our goals and needs.

The Four Levels Of Evaluation In Training Metrics

As instructional designers, we start with Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation. You can use the following four metrics to start the process that will guide the development of your learning solutions.

Level 1: Reaction

At this level you’re looking at the needs of learners. You’re measuring things like learner satisfaction, user experience, and relevance of content. These metrics are important to ensure learner participation and engagement. This is important because your learners won’t absorb the content if they are turned off by it.

Level 2: Outcomes

In this category, we have the traditional yardsticks of learning: data from exams, scored activities, and other testing processes. You can also use pre-exams to measure the baseline level of skill before learners take the training, and then post-exams to determine the amount of change.

Level 3: Performance

Are your learners more productive after the training? Do they make fewer mistakes? Do they seem more confident? How are performance reviews changing? Are you getting better feedback from customers, clients, and vendors? Use of mechanisms to measure performance are also valuable training metrics.

Level 4: Impact

What are the business KPIs over time? Have you decreased operational costs by reducing training time or reducing mistakes that cause waste? Have you seen an increase in sales? The big-picture impact on the business of your training is important to measure.

Next Steps In Learning Program Evaluations

Could you use training metrics to guide the development of your learning program? The answer is yes. You can design your learning program with these metrics in mind.

How? Here are some examples:

  • You might design a digital learning program knowing you’ll have access to the data from digital learning courses that show use, participation rates, and completions. You might also collect the user data to demonstrate reduced seat time for a training, thereby increasing productivity.
  • You might create a customer service training using real-life scenarios to practice skills, with a goal to reduce the overall number of complaints and mistakes. (You could build in practice time to replay those scenarios as well.)
  • You might provide FAQs and other downloadable resources as an accessible takeaway on-the-job supplement to use, with overall decreased call time as a marker of better performance for employees answering phones.
  • You might measure the certification rates for compliance testing before and after your new compliance training. You could also measure the average in scoring to determine improvement.

Even better, you can also use the same training metrics to improve your learning solution over time. Essentially, you want to plan your learning solution, measure the outcome, then act on your knowledge to make adjustments. These adjustments might include adding courses, removing unnecessary (or ineffective) content, incorporating new activities to increase engagement, or changing the methods of content delivery.


Training metrics are a valuable source of information in the planning, evaluation, and improvement of your learning solutions over time. Start by using Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation to determine the best use of metrics based on your goals and objectives, and don’t forget to continue to measure over time to make adjustments when needed. Your training metrics can also be used to gain buy-in from learners and the decision-makers that authorize the development of training content.

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