Boost the Effectiveness of Learner Feedback
7 . March . 2022
Successful organizations evaluate their training programs to optimize learning transfer from the classroom to the job. You’re probably familiar with commonly-used methods to evaluate training effectiveness, such as learner feedback, tests and assessments, role plays and simulations, observation, and customer surveys.
As part of a comprehensive training evaluation approach, these methods form a strategy to determine if a class or curriculum has had the desired impact on employee performance. Some training teams add more detail to their training evaluation yardstick, using metrics like return on investment or strategic impact, but most training managers take a more pragmatic view.
Here are five easy-to-implement ideas you can use to boost the effectiveness of learner feedback as an evaluation method:
Gather learner feedback early and often
Post-course surveys may be helpful to improve future training classes, but don’t provide real-time feedback for real-time adjustments. Instead, add in-progress touchpoints for trainers to solicit learner feedback throughout a learning event. These can include:
• Daily pulse-checks for multi-day classes
• Weekly surveys for multi-week curriculum
• Standard questions at transitions between modules
Formative data helps the trainer adjust their delivery based on learner feedback, and provides context and an early warning if something is going wrong. This will provide good information for trainers as learners move into tests and assessments.
Craft learner-centered survey questions
Questions designed to solicit feedback about the learner’s experience shift the focus from critiquing the trainer or the content to sharing unfiltered input about their experience as a learner. It's a subtle difference that can substantially impact the quantity and the quality of feedback offered.
Gather learner feedback after learners are on the job
After a training class, it's not uncommon to hear, “Class was great. I loved it - thanks!” This type of feedback is always satisfying to hear, but feedback after the learner has returned to work is more critical than the immediate reaction. A week or two after the training event, reach out one more time and ask:
• “What have you applied from the class you attended?”
• "Were you prepared to apply the knowledge you learned on the job?”
• “What would have made the training experience more effective and practical?”
Clarify what your learner feedback data tells you and your stakeholders
It’s true, learner feedback doesn’t necessarily reflect if the course was successful, and it isn’t entirely objective or reliable, but it can provide valuable root-cause data about critical factors that influence learning and skill transfer.
Did a quarter of the class fail the end-of-class evaluation? Are learners not able to use what they learned after a training class? Return to the class evaluations to see how they perceived the class, if identified barriers were resolved, and how learners rated their readiness to apply what they learned. Learner feedback can provide valuable clues when learners cannot demonstrate newly acquired skills or knowledge.
Create an end-to-end process for learner reaction data
Class is over, and the feedback surveys are in. Now what? In many organizations, that’s it; managers and trainers take a cursory glance at the results and move on to the next class.
Learner feedback is just the start of a comprehensive training evaluation strategy. While it may not carry the weight that tests, assessments, observations, and other measurement tools do, this easy-to-collect data helps us connect more effectively with our learners, gather in-flight reactions for course correction, and detect early roadblocks.
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