Tag Archives: assessments

Measuring with Assessments in Training

Tie your shoes  In our last post, we discussed the idea of giving assessments in business training.  We’ve established their necessity, that they measure how effective the training has been and how ready the trainees are to proceed with their re-defined processes.  We know that assessments are crucial, and the identification of what to measure is equally as important, otherwise the whole assessment process is simply a formality.  We are going to give an assessment, but what do we want that to measure?  And how can we format the assessment to measure it?

Let’s take an example of a new process.  I’ll take a page from my old manager and set up the example that we’re teaching a group of colleagues how to tie their shoes.  We need to test them on how well they’ve learned the task so that they can repeat it in the future, and to what quality score they can repeat the process.  How do we measure that?  Well, when it comes to tying a shoe, it ultimately needs to be secure, it needs to be comfortable, and it needs to look clean.  These would be our measurement objectives: security, comfortability, and neatness.

I realize that these categories are a little subjective… everyone ties shoes a little differently (myself included).  But in the end, all business processes have an element of subjectivity.  If you don’t have the correct technique (or process) you won’t end up with a quality result.  We can measure this process by having a trainee demonstrate their understanding of the process in a live environment.  Let’s say we have the trainee tie a shoe on the foot of the instructor (that way they can measure the security and comfortability of the shoe) If we want them to succeed, it may be beneficial to give them real-time advice as they are demonstrating their new shoe-tying skills.  The instructor should watch their demonstration and give them a score on each of the three defined categories.  If they feel that the trainee is competent in the process based on those scores, then they can say the training was successful.

What if we wanted to go deeper, and measure the process underlying the three categories?  We need to measure the process itself and how well the trainees learned it.  We could construct a written quiz to test their knowledge prior to the demonstration.  But we need to make sure the questions are written in a way that are easy to understand, but not too complicated and an easy give-away.  As a teaser, take a look at these tips to writing quiz questions, and we’ll discuss this in our next post.

Photo credit: My Shoes

Assessments and Business Training

assessment 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