How to Measure the Satisfaction of Learners Taking Your Online Courses

Why You Should Measure the Satisfaction of Learners

Since you’ve put effort and dedication into designing a stellar e-learning course, it’s important to also take time to find out if your learners are satisfied with their experience. Satisfied learners tend to be more engaged and are more likely to implement what they’ve learned back on the job.

Measuring the satisfaction of your learners allows you to make sure they enjoyed the training and will apply their new knowledge and skills. If they weren’t satisfied, you can find out why. That way you’ll know how to better engage them  when you revise the course or create other courses.  

How You Can Easily Measure Learner Satisfaction

The only way to find out if your learners are satisfied with your training is to ask them. You can create a simple post-course satisfaction survey using a variety of free online survey-creation tools. These tools allow you to quickly create simple surveys and receive the results via email. Consider making your survey anonymous so participants feel comfortable giving honest feedback.

Keep in mind that these surveys, for the most part, measure a participant’s opinion about the course, not how much they learned. Still, they can help you tweak and improve your training programs.

When to Measure the Satisfaction of Learners

Ideally, you should measure the satisfaction of your learners both immediately after they complete the course and a few weeks later. This two-pronged approach is more effective because you not only find out how learners feel immediately after training, but you get insight into whether the training actually helped them implement their new skills on the job.

Before starting the course, give your participants a heads-up that they’ll need to complete a post-course satisfaction survey. For the follow-up survey, wait a week or two to give your participants a chance to apply their new knowledge or skills. But don’t wait too long or they’ll forget training details—and won’t be able to clearly link the training to changes in how they do their jobs.

Questions to Ask in a Learner Satisfaction Survey

Your survey should uncover how learners feel about the course they just took, and if they think it was relevant and valuable. Use open-ended questions as well as scaled ones, and try to avoid quick yes/no questions. Have learners list specific things they liked and disliked about the training, and ask them to identify how they can apply or have applied the new skills to their job.

Here are some examples of questions to include in the learner satisfaction survey you send immediately after the course:

  • How would you rate the overall difficulty of this course?
  • What are the three most relevant things you learned in this course?
  • Overall, how would you rate your satisfaction with this course?
  • How confident are you that you can apply the new skill on the job?

And here are some questions for the follow-up survey you’ll send a few weeks later:

  • How have you applied what you learned in the course on the job?
  • Describe a situation where you used something you learned in the course.
  • What’s the most useful thing you learned in the course?
  • Is there anything the course didn’t cover that would’ve been helpful to know?

What to Do with Survey Results and Data

The results of your course satisfaction surveys will provide important data about what your learners liked and didn’t like about your course design. If the course is still in use, or reviewed annually, you can use the data to make updates and changes to the course. If you won’t get a chance to change that particular course once it’s published, try to incorporate the participant feedback, and what you’ve learned from it, into your next course design.

And if your data shows that the e-learning course didn’t address a certain issue or topic, you may choose to build a follow-up course or send a job aid to the participants.

Communicating the Results of Your Satisfaction Survey

Should you communicate survey results to others on the team? That depends on the project. You may need to report your findings to a project manager or human resources department. If the survey results were great and learners loved your course, you probably won’t have any problems giving others access to your post-course evaluation results. On the other hand, if participants rated the course negatively, you might be less inclined to share the data. But if you’re not honest about areas of strength and weakness, it’s harder to take steps to improve future training initiatives.

If the survey wasn’t anonymous, remember to respect the confidentiality of your participants, and don’t share any specific names or information. Make sure the data is clear and that you understand the findings—and the reasons behind them—before sharing information with others, so you’re prepared to answer their questions.

The post-course satisfaction survey is not the be-all and end-all for measuring the effectiveness of e-learning courses, but it’s still an important tool for discovering what you’re doing well, and where you can improve. If you ask relevant and meaningful questions that can help you improve your course designs, it’ll be beneficial for everyone involved!

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