Brace for Impact — Why an Impact Model Must Be the Basis of Your Learning Design

light bulbs in a row used as metaphor for impact model

light bulbs in a row used as metaphor for impact modelFor learning programs to matter, they must make an impact. What does that mean? It means that learning must make a measurable, discernible difference to an organization. Measures of perception or opinion don’t reveal the difference. Hard data and metric changes do. That’s why choosing an impact measurement model is the best choice.

ROI By Design® — An Impact Measurement Model

The ROI by Design® model is an impact measurement model. That means, it doesn’t measure perception (what employees think about a learning program). It measures learner abilities and behavior (what an employee does back on the job in response to the learning program).

As learning leaders, if we’re not changing outcomes, improving performance, or improving workflow, then we’re not doing our jobs. A student might be able to pass a test after attending one of our learning programs, but if that learning doesn’t  transfer to on-the-job behavior change, then it was a waste of time.

An impact model of measurement measures knowledge and skill gains by directly testing for them. The ROI by Design® model measures at a few set points in the learning process. First, knowledge and skill are measured before the training. These same measures are taken again immediately after the training, which measure the short-term gain from the learning program. Finally, several months after the training, learners are tested again. This final measure shows the long-term gain from the program. Those measurements show the direct impact to the student, and the job. Additionally, this model also measures the intended organizational impact (the key performance metric [KPM]) before and after the training to confirm that the behavior changes actually impacted the identified metric. It directly connects the learned skills to the organizational benefit. The change to that metric is what defines the measurable impact to the organization.

Clarity For Learning Professionals and Stakeholders

The impact measurement model clarifies the gains from a learning program. With hard data, learning professionals can see for themselves the value of their program. Perhaps more importantly, they can provide evidence to stakeholders. The empirical evidence of knowledge and skill gains shows how behavior changes derived from the learning benefited the organization.

This clarity is something both learning professionals and business leaders want. Stakeholders think learning programs have an impact, but they need the proof so they can continue to request budget and buy-in from business leaders. Failing to provide that data leaves learning programs facing constant jeopardy whenever the annual budgeting process starts.

Why Aren’t All Learning Professionals Using An Impact Measurement Model for Program Design?

There are a number of reasons why all learning professionals have not yet embraced the impact measurement model of instructional design.

Some still don’t believe learning impact is measurable. Sad to say, but many learning professionals still think measuring training impact is not only impossible, but that it’s counterproductive. This is just not true! At eParamus, we teach learning professionals how to measure learning impact every day. Not only is it possible, it’s the only way you should design your learning programs.

Many learning professionals don’t understand how to choose the right metric to measure. This next reason is more understandable. Many learning professionals have never been taught how to choose the right metric to measure. They key is learning to tell the difference between a strategic metric and an operational metric. When most learning professionals come to grasp this distinction, it feels like a eureka moment.

A few don’t know what they don’t know. Though impact measurement models are increasingly popular, there are some learning professionals for whom this is a new concept. This may include you. If this is a new concept for you as a learning professional, then you’re in luck. You’ve just discovered the secret that can transform how you value yourself as a learning professional and how your organization values you.

Where Do You Fall On This Spectrum?

Do you need to learn more about the impact measurement model of learning design? You can learn more in three ways. First, explore my blog. Twice a  month, I post insights on how learning professionals can create measurable learning. Second, you can learn more in my book, ROI By Design, available from Amazon in hard copy or Kindle versions. Finally, when you’re ready to master this concept, you can become certified in Measurable Instructional Design®.

For more details about anything in this article, please contact us here at eParamus.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to discuss the learning challenges you face.

Photo copyright: choneschones / 123RF Stock Photo

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