Learning professionals understand evaluation is necessary to create better learning programsAs students, tests provide evaluation of what you’ve learned. As an employee, the annual performance review evaluates your progress over the past year. That information helps plot your path for the upcoming year. When you take your car in for repair, a mechanic evaluates what’s wrong with it and estimates what it will take to fix it. When you meet a new person, you evaluate them to decide if it’s a relationship you want to continue. I homed in on this idea recently while reading a blog post about how training evaluation is an effective tool for change. The author describes how evaluation is an irrefutable part of our daily lives. This is true. Yet the writer also notes that evaluation is not being used nearly enough to have a good effect within the learning and instructional design field. I agree with that observation and think there are a few reasons for this avoidance.

Why Does Evaluation Stoke Fear Among Learning Professionals?

I work daily with learning professionals. Some embrace the concept of measurement and evaluation. Others avoid it like the plague. Evaluation strikes fear among some learning professionals. I think there is one main reasons for this. Some learning professionals believe evaluation will “show their weaknesses.” But what they do not consider is: If there is weakness in the instructional design and delivery, it will show up eventually, but in a much larger way. If your students are unable to do anything differently after attending the course, then everyone—students, managers, CLOs—will see this indicator of failure. Which is better? Finding the failure early so that the learning program can be diagnosed and repaired or finding the failure when after the program produces no results to your business?

Evaluation Data Is Required To Refine Your Programs

Evaluating helps you diagnose and repair your learning design and course facilitation much like testing helps engineers repair faults in their mechanical designs. Evaluating is your quality assurance process. Without it, you have little chance of improving your programs or your craft! Fear is powerful and it often keeps us from moving in the right direction. Recently, one of our customers was trying to get someone else from their company (another learning professional) to use our program. This learning professional got nervous about having data that would show the effectiveness of their programs. They actually said, “I do not want to do that! What happens if our programs are ineffective?” Exactly. What will happen if your programs aren’t effective? You’ll have students that do not learn. Managers will be unhappy. There will be fingers pointing at your training team, with everyone asking why the learning program did not work. There will be excuse making and hand wringing and no positive outcome. Why would you want that result? Fear is powerful, but knowledge is more powerful. As an L&D professional, choose to work from a position of strength. Evaluation, when used properly, will make your learning programs better and will position your L&D team as essential partners to the organization. Do you have a robust evaluation process for your learning programs? If not, why not? When problems arise in your programs, do you know how to diagnose and fix them? If this is an area you want to explore, then contact us at eParamus. We’d love to help. Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to tell me more about your training challenges.
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