Tag Archives: training courses

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

Creating Motivation in Learning

Motivation at work  There’s always one.  One person who comes to you before or after class and says “Why are we here?  What is the point of this class?”  Heaven forbid this person blurts this out in the middle of class.  If it’s not a class that you are completely sold on, or perhaps something that you’re not completely qualified to teach (a math teacher in a science class, for example), you may not have a direct answer quick at the ready.  You might be caught off-guard with the question and be sitting there saying “Uhhhh… Ummmm….”

How do you deal with that?  How do you create motivation in your students, be it for a required class in school or a business training that the entire company must attend?  Teachers and trainers alike struggle to answer this question, and many don’t come up with a simple answer.  The bad news is, there is no simple answer.  The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to generate motivation in your students, it just takes some creativity and prep work ahead of time.

We talked about motivation a while back in a previous blog post: “Motivation is Key to Learning“.  There are mountains of evidence (not to mention personal experience of any trainer or teacher) on why motivation is important to the success of a class.  I found an interesting (albeit somewhat outdated but still relevant) article on Stanford’s website about Motivation and how one can create it.  For any class, relevance to the audience is key.  Make the learning objectives personal for them and show them how the material can help them succeed, or where they might need to remember this in the future.

In a business setting, most likely the trainees are directed to attend the training as part of their jobs.  This leads to some inherent motivation, but not necessarily because they want to be there.  You, as a trainer and subject matter expert, need to tell them why this information is necessary for the completion of their jobs.  It may even be necessary for the survival of the company – take SOX compliance or customer privacy training as examples.  This information should also be echoed by management.  They may not be excited about being in training, but you can help by making the training more fun.  Use some humor, pass out candy or run some interesting exercises.  Ice breakers and impromptu skits are a good way to keep the energy going in the room.

Whatever you do, any trainer or teacher will tell you that motivation is essential, otherwise there is no point in anyone wasting their time.  This motivation will help the students engage in your materials, and they might even enjoy the time they spend in the classroom, learning new things.

Photo credit: Examiner

Was it all Worth It?

Assessment Word block  Businesses all around the world spend billions of dollars on quality assurance and control. They ensure that all products that they put out to market meet a certain standard, usually somewhere around 99%. They have trained professionals checking a sampling of products that meet the expectations of the business and can be sold to waiting consumers. If this product is no good, ideally the business will get consumer feedback and continuously improve the products. Products improve over time, and businesses can measure how effective (or popular) their products are based on certain quality measurements and marketing research.

Training has little differences with quality control. In the fifth and final phase of the ADDIE instructional design model, trainers Evaluate their courses and see how effective they were. Ultimately, a trainer uses the Evaluate phase to determine how well the solution achieved the objectives of the training, through measurement and assessment. This can be done through having the students complete evaluation forms, assessments of the students’ performance either during or after the training, or direct observation of their comprehension of the materials. Once this measurement is completed and analyzed, the trainer should then determine if additional instruction is needed, and make the necessary corrections.

An interesting methodology of measuring training effectiveness comes from Donald Kirkpatrick. He breaks evaluation of training into four distinct levels, getting more complex and deeper in evaluation as you go higher.  The four levels are as follows:
Level 1 – Reaction: How favorably do the participants react to the training?
Level 2 – Learning: How well did the trainees acquire new knowledge or skills during the training?
Level 3 – Behavior: How effectively did the trainees apply what they learned in their jobs after the training?
Level 4 – Results: How well were the target objectives achieved as a result of the training?
Source: kirkpatrickpartners.com

Depending on the answers to these questions, the ADDIE cycle should be completed.  If the objectives aren’t met to your satisfaction, you might need to restart the model, or go back to the design phase and try revamping the training.  Sometimes you will need to re-apply the training to additional employees to better permeate the culture.  You might need to adjust your materials, delivery style, or assessment methods to get a better result.  Ultimately, the goals of the business need to be met as best as possible using the tools at hand.  The ADDIE model is designed to be a cycle, something that can be used over and over again until the objectives are met.  Using this model will allow you to structure your training courses and make your job easier.

Photo credit: University of Connecticut