As e-learning and instructional designers, we create training materials that are intended to improve performance and impact a business’s bottom line. In addition, we hope to create a learning experience that will be positive and engaging for the learner. But how can we measure the success of our training, demonstrate the value, and prove there have been changes in performance? One key way is with solid evaluation methods.

Evaluation is part of ADDIE, one of the most commonly used instructional design models. In fact, the E in ADDIE stands for Evaluation. For guidance on how and when you should evaluate, many instructional designers use the Kirkpatrick Model, which outlines four levels of evaluation designers should consider throughout the training development process. The four levels of evaluation measure:

  1. Reaction: The learner’s reaction or opinion of the training.
  2. Learning: Whether learners acquired the intended knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
  3. Behavior: Whether learners apply what they learned on the job.
  4. Results: Whether business goals were reached as a result of the training.

One way to get insights and measurements into level 1 (Reaction) is through questionnaires distributed to learners at the end of a course. These post-course evaluations have questions designed to gather information about learners’ reactions and opinions about the training.

It’s important to remember that post-course evals measure participants’ opinions; the information gathered with these questionnaires is subjective, not objective. And while they might be informative and insightful, they should ideally go hand in hand with analysis and measurement of performance metrics, such as KPIs (read more: Use KPIs to Make the Business Case for E-Learning). Through these metrics you can glean some crucial, though still subjective, insights into your learner’s experience.

When you craft the questions you want to include in your post-course evaluation, focus on performance- and task-based questions. Here are examples of the types of questions you might want to include:

  • Rate your level of confidence with the new skills acquired on a scale of 1-5
  • How do you feel you can apply what you've learned on the job?
  • Do you have a task in the near future that allows you to apply the new skill/knowledge?
  • Identify a specific work situation where you will apply what you’ve learned

These questions address performance and application of new knowledge and skills, which should be the end goal of training. Answers to these types of questions will give you insights into how the training impacted the bottom line. The hope is that with the data collected you can make improvements to existing and future courses, and provide supplemental or additional training materials if needed.

Hopefully this information and the sample questions help you feel more confident about creating your own post-course evaluation. Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

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stewart milton