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Evaluation – just an add-on?

You have probably done it yourself.  It’s the end of the course, people are starting to think about the train home or tomorrow’s meeting, and the trainer smiles and gives you an A4 sheet asking for your feedback.writing hand and penThe course was pretty good, you know they’re going to see the scores you give, you don’t want any unpleasantness right at the end and you have little time or interest in writing much comment. So it’s a quick set of ticks, hand it back, smile and off you go.  The happy sheet has made its usual appearance.  Mostly harmless, but not very useful to anyone.

That’s not evaluation in my view.

Evaluation is all about value.  What value did the learner want to get from engaging with the training?  How much of that expected value came through on the day?  What unexpected value was added, by the trainer, discussion with other participants, or the learner’s own insights?

Taking it further, how will the potential value from learning now be turned into actual value at work?  When and how will the new or refreshed skills be applied?  How will customers, suppliers,                  colleagues or the boss benefit?  Has the learning been strongly embedded enough to overcome the inevitable hindrances?  Can the learner pass on anything of what they’ve learned to help their team or a fellow-worker?

I have found that posing questions like this help to measure the real value of good learning.  So, for example, I know that we teach Writing Dynamics™ in such a way that people

  • do use the system back at work
  • save time and effort when writing
  • feel more confident about the quality of what they write.

Evaluation that produces this sort of data isn’t an add-on. It’s an important measure of the time, commitment and money everyone invests in learning.  So next time you are given a ‘happy sheet’, remember: it’s all about value.

Chris Webbley Writing Trainer & Consultant, Indigo.