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Evaluations: Six ways to ensure effectiveness

If you ask people to list the ten things they detest most, completing lengthy evaluations would make many lists, right there between slow WiFi and misuse of “your” and “you’re.”

For any training program, however, collecting usable evaluation data is not just important, it’s a must. The challenge is an evaluation process that is succinct and painless for respondents without sacrificing essential feedback.

Desktop computer screen showing a form for online evaluations.

  1. Good repetition vs. bad repetition. Even subtle changes in questions from one survey to the next can mess with results. Be consistent in what questions you ask. However, keep repetition to a minimum within each evaluation. For example, don’t ask five different ways if the instructor gave an effective presentation.
  2. Build a solid structure. Structuring questions for consistency and usable data takes work, but it is essential to making evaluations meaningful. Here’s a simple guide from the government.
  3. Go beyond the basics. The bigger obstacle to extracting value from evaluations is allocating the time and resources to dig past surface-level information. Several prominent surveys suggest that while at least four out of every five evaluations cover the basics as defined by level one of the Kirkpatrick/Phillips model, very few go beyond.
  4. Be up front. Tell participants how long it should take the complete the form. Err on the high side. If you think it should take five minutes, say it will take six or seven. If all questions are on the same page, they can see for themselves exactly what they’re in for. If all questions are not on the same page, tell them how many questions you’re asking, e.g. “Please answer these 10 questions about your learning experience.”
  5. Be honest. Tell participants why the information is valuable and how you will use it. Allow them to buy into the process. Give them some ownership.
  6. Allow for percolation. A common temptation is to share the evaluation form, perhaps in paper form, at the end of the class. Responses may be hasty and less than fully formed so soon. Instead, allow students time to ruminate on what they learned. Give them time to complete it, within reason, at their convenience. Later, pick a suitable timeframe in which learnings could be applied in the participant’s job, then circle back to participants.

If you have some thoughts or samples of great evaluation forms that might be useful to other Learning Stream customers – please share them in the Comments section.

If you would like to know more about setting up surveys in Learning Stream, or registration management software in general, feel free to contact us anytime.


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