Although my education is in music, I have spent the last 3-4 years in the business world doing training and education in a business process organization. Obviously there are a lot of differences between classroom education and business training, but much of the techniques and tools that are used by educators are also used by trainers. It’s very important to maintain credibility, have good public speaking skills, be able to motivate your trainees, and cater to the three major learning styles. But one thing remains, and that is the need to know how effective your training has been, and whether your trainees are ready to participate in the new materials as part of their everyday jobs.
We touched on this subject earlier, but the best way to determine whether your students understand the training is to give them an assessment. Obviously, with public education, the need for assessments and standardized tests as a form of measurement is highly controversial. But in a business setting, where we are driven by numbers and results, assessments are the best way to determine effectiveness of training. We want to quiz the trainees on their retention of the materials, because ultimately, their jobs depend on how well they can execute afterwards. If they can’t remember how a new process goes, or maybe how a process is changed, it will have a significant effect on quality, performance, and security in their operational work.
A common line in my work is “we have to fill a 90-minute training into a 60-minute slot”, and therefore don’t have any time for an assessment. As trainers, we cannot stress the need for assessments too much. This simple measurement tool can tell us whether we need to have additional training sessions, maybe a repeat session, or it would also indicate whether a particular individual needs additional resources to complete their job. If an assessment is not given at the end of a training, then there is no way for the trainer and business to know whether a new process is ready for implementation. There is no justification for the training class to even happen in the first place.
One option in the above scenario may be to send the assessment out after the training in email form. A pre-completed form with simple questions to answer and then sent back to the trainer is a good way to let them take the assessment on their own time. There are pros and cons to this method, though… you might lose some accuracy due to some trainees working together on it, which wouldn’t reflect a true measurement of understanding. One benefit is that you have less paperwork and an easier time collating the results through electronic means. This would also allow you to not have to sacrifice training time for giving an assessment.
We’ll talk about some assessment techniques in the next post. How can we create questions that avoid confusion? Are trick questions necessary? How valuable s an assessment with a variety of question formats? Stay tuned for more!
Photo credit: Magical Maths