Measure Training Success Meaningfully

It’s not uncommon for organizations to take a binary approach to training – employees have either received it, or they haven’t.

Measure Training SuccessSuccess is often simplistically measured in terms of employee performance. And while this may indicate the value of an individual, it says little about the value of the training program.

Why does it matter? If workers are passing whatever tests are offered at each stage of training, doesn’t that effectively indicate the program itself is a success?

Not necessarily.

“A successful training program is always a work in progress, and the training cycle isn’t complete without an evaluation of training’s effectiveness, which leads to decision-making and planning for future training,”
Donald Kirkpatrick.

The Kirkpatrick model – a tradition worth keeping?

Donald Kirkpatrick, author of Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels, identifies 4 levels of evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. Though his model is nearly sixty years old (with an update in 1994 when his book was published) and not perfect, but Kirkpatrick’s model still makes a lot of sense:

1. Reaction – This asks for trainees’ opinions of the training. While this is important, it’s entirely subjective. If seven out of ten people think the training program is effective, what does that mean for the remaining three who didn’t like it?

2. Learning – Trainees should have an understanding of what was taught when training ends. If they don’t, however, where does the problem lie? And how do you fix it?

3. Behavior – This looks at how what is learned is applied in actuality – which is a truer test of your training program than whatever written test trainees may take. Trainees may be able to memorize information and pass a test, but if those skills can’t be transferred to a real-world scenario, what’s the point?

4. Results – This combines everything above and takes it into the long term. Is your training program increasing productivity, cutting costs, etc? Whatever your goals are, if they’re not being met you’ve got to make changes.

Not to mention, not everyone has (or takes) the time to go through this evaluation process, because “short term priorities always crowd out their longer term competitors.”

In so many cases, training is simply a means of survival against employee turnover and production deadlines – with bare minimums of safety and required certifications met, and not much more.

Technology is making it all easier
Given its flaws, has the Kirkpatrick model reached its shelf life? Hardly. In fact, advances in training technology can give it a new, and more effective, life. 3D Interactive Training modules offer the flexibility to incorporate multiple learning approaches, solving the issue mentioned in the Reaction level above, and many others.

Evaluation becomes an automatic and ongoing process at every stage of training, saving time, and shining a spotlight on any gaps in trainees’ knowledge in the moment.

And an interactive “learn by doing” approach makes the transfer to practical applications more seamless.

And because training is more engaging, it’s more effective – which means higher ROI will naturally follow.

Training is changing – for the better – and it’s even improving the standard model for measuring success we’ve used for decades. That’s proof of success right there.

 How do you measure training success – and are you getting the results you want? Reach out to bring your training into the future with 3D Interactive Simulation.