The Survey Proposal
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in class going over details of our upcoming exam. One of my fellow classmates asked our professor how the exam would be graded. My professor responded, “How about I just give you all a survey asking how well you think you’re performing in the class and how much effort you are putting into your learning, and that can be your grade.” The whole class laughed, knowing that as nice as it sounded, it wasn’t practical.
It wasn’t practical.
At first, the idea of this survey sounded great to me. I knew the amount of effort I had been putting into learning the material. I felt confident in the learning objectives. Filling out a survey instead of taking a test would save me a lot of stress.
The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized how unfulfilling it would be to fill out a survey to determine my grade in the class. I knew that I would never really know the amount of information I understood and retained unless my knowledge was put to the test. Without testing and assessing my knowledge, I would never receive feedback.
I am paying for my education. So, I am paying to ensure that I comprehend the concepts that will later help me in my career. I want confirmation that I gained what I was supposed to gain from the learning units we had covered. I want to prove that I have put in the effort and have the motivation to learn.
So, if taking a survey to measure learning at a university is laughable, why is taking a survey to measure training sufficient? The answer is that it isn’t.
Test Grades and Measurable Training
Another one of my professors, as well as Dr. Laura Paramoure, has said to me “training is essentially teaching.”
Often, trainees have a similar mentality that I have as a student. They want to prove that they have mastered the content. They want the opportunity to showcase their efforts and put them to use. Filling out a survey to measure learning robs them of this opportunity. Furthermore, it robs employers of the empirical data that proves to them that their investment in training is beneficial to the company.
Surveys Don’t Earn Degrees
College students do not pass their classes based on filling out a survey stating that they learned the material. If that were the case, diplomas would mean nothing. The thousands of dollars spent on a degree would be a waste. Employers would have little indication on whether their candidates actually have the information needed in order to be successful on the job. Would you want a doctor to perform surgery on you if they passed anatomy because they filled out a survey saying they put effort into the class and understood all of the material? I sure wouldn’t.
The Bottom Line
I challenge learning and development professionals to hold the same standard. It is crucial to ensure that the time and money spent on training is not wasted. To do this, we must stop relying on surveys.
It is time to start using testable data. Learning and development professionals deserve to be able to prove the value of training. Students deserve to prove their mastery of learning objectives.