How to conduct training evaluations: A practical guide

Companies invest a lot of money and effort to constantly train staff so they can stay ahead of their game and become more productive within their job roles. So, how can HR and Learning and development teams know if their training programs are yielding results?  

In this guide you will discover why training evaluations are vital, explore the most well-known evaluation models and tools, and learn all the steps you need to take to effectively assess your training programs.  

1. Understanding Training Evaluation: What is it and why it matters 

Training evaluation is an essential part of the overall strategy of a training program, it helps companies assess the return of investment and ensures that they are meeting their objectives.  

Additionally, it allows instructional designers and learning and development teams gather insights into what is effective and what is not, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and modify effectively their training programs.  

Let’s explore in more detail why implementing evaluations is vital and the advantages it offers.  

2. Why implement training evaluations? Exploring the advantages  

Although implementing training evaluations requires an extra effort and resources, the benefits outweigh the challenges, some of the advantages are:  

Discovering learning gaps  

One of the biggest benefits of evaluating your corporate training plan is that it provides useful data about learning gaps, identifying them enables improvements to the course content. For example, if you see that a high percentage of learners are failing the evaluation of a sales training course, it gives you a clue that the course content is not effective so you can optimize it accordingly.  

Supports strategic decision-making  

Creating a training strategy entails the buy-in of several stakeholders, having evaluation data to back up the decision-making on training initiatives is vital to support strategic decisions.  

For instance, if the company places high importance on legal compliance training but the course has low completion rates, you can use this data to recommend changes to the course format and content while securing your manager’s support.  

Increases employee performance and talent retention  

Evaluating and analyzing data on training outcomes can help instructional designers and L&D professionals implement improvements which impact the performance of employees. Having a robust corporate training program that constantly adapts to the needs of its workforce can increase productivity and talent retention.  

Improves the quality of the content  

Evaluation metrics such as participation rates by groups, geographical location, and job roles can be valuable data that can help create targeted and personalized course content.  

On the other hand, qualitative data that is obtained from employee’s comments, likes or votes on a particular course module can provide useful insights to make enhancements to the content quality.  

As you can see, there are numerous reasons why to implement the evaluation of a training program. Now, let’s take a closer look at several training evaluation models that can assist you in this process.  

3. Unearthing 7 training evaluation models: Quick guide  

Training evaluation models offer a sturdy foundation and framework to assess the effectiveness of training programs. Understanding the most influential models is essential for maximizing training initiatives, optimizing training investments and measuring ROI. In this section, we will explore seven of the most important models that will guide you in your evaluation process.  

Diseño: En esta sección podemos crear bloques resaltando los niveles de cada modelo. Pongo un ejemplo.  

1. Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model 

Kirkpatrick’s model is one of the most widely used models for evaluating effectively. It consists of four levels: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results.  

  • Reactions: This level evaluates if learners find the training engaging and relevant. Assessments are usually performed through survey questions.  
  • Learning: The learning level analyzes whether learners have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge. This model emphasizes the use of tests or interviews-style evaluations.  
  • Behavior: This is one of the most crucial steps, it measures the impact of training and if it is being applied in the workplace. At this level you will need to assess the behavioral changes of the employee after the completion of the course.  
  • Results: This is the final level; it involves contrasting the results with the training KPIs that were established initially before starting the training.  

By systematically assessing each level, organizations can benchmark the effectiveness of their training programs and make data-driven decisions for improvement. 

2. The Phillips ROI Model 

The Philip ROI Model is not your typical evaluation method, it focuses on return on investment (ROI). This particular model enables companies to calculate the economic benefits that come from training investments, it provides valuable insights into the financial impact of training programs.  

Presented as a cost/benefit ratio you can calculate the return of investment with the following formula:  

3. Kaufman’s Five Levels of Evaluation  

Kaufman`s model offers a complete and holistic approach to training evaluation, it encompasses five levels: Input, Reaction, Process, Acquisition, Payoffs, Outcomes.  

  • Input: This first stage evaluates the resources and training materials. It makes sure that the training inputs are aligned with the organizational needs.  
  • Process: In this second stage it evaluates the effectiveness and acceptance of the training course.  
  • Application: This level refers to how learners have applied the knowledge in their current role.  
  • Payoffs: This stage analyzes the cost/ benefit of the training program and evaluates improvements.  
  • Outcomes: This final level examines the broader impact of training in the organization and society, including performance of the organization in terms of efficiency and revenue.  

Kaufman’s model ensures a holistic evaluation of training programs, considering both immediate and long-term impacts on the organization and society. 

4. The CIRO Model 

The CIRO (Context, Input, Reaction, Outcome) Evaluation Model offers a structured approach to training evaluation, focusing on four key areas: 

  • Context: During the first stage it assesses the organization environment and needs to that training is aligned with the strategic goals.  
  • Input: This level evaluates the design, resources, planning, and management of the training program.  
  • Reaction: Measures participant satisfaction and engagement with the training by requesting feedback from trainees.  
  • Outcome: Examines the training’s effectiveness by looking at behavioral changes and performance improvements. 

By addressing these four dimensions, the CIRO model provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating and enhancing training programs. 

5. Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation 

Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation focuses on aligning the training goals with the organization’s objectives through three key stages:  

  • Stage 1: The first step is to evaluate the organization’s training alignment with the strategic priorities.  
  • Stage 2: Use several methods, this second stage evaluates the learning contribution.  
  • Stage 3: Finally, this last level identifies the most effective training approaches for the organization.  

By focusing on these stages, Anderson’s model ensures that training programs not only enhance individual capabilities but also contribute significantly to organizational success. 

6. Brinkerhoff model  

The Brinkerhoff Evaluation Model, which is also known as the Success Case Method, focuses on identifying and evaluating training success stories. This model involves:  

  • Identifying success cases: Searching for successful training cases that can be used as examples for new programs.  
  • Analyzing success stories: It then investigates the case study and analyzes what made it successful.  
  • Learning from successes: By uncovering useful insights of the successful training case study, it uses the information to improve training programs and replicate effective practices.  

The Brinkerhoff model provides practical insights by emphasizing the use of real-world successful training programs.  

7. CIPP Evaluation Model  

The CIPP Evaluation Model (Context, Input, Process, Product) is a decision-focused approach and it is based on four answering these four questions to help plan the training program and determine if it has been a success:  

  • Context: What should we do? This entails gathering and analyzing data from needs assessments to establish goals, priorities, and objectives. 
  • Input: How should we do it? Determines and analyzes the resources, strategy, and action plans used in training. 
  • Process: Is the training going as planned? Examines the implementation and delivery of the training program. 
  • Product: Did the training work? Measures the outcomes and overall effectiveness of the training. 

With the help of the CIPP model organizations can get quantitative, as well as qualitative data that can be used to enhance the quality of training and have a positive impact on the strategic goals and objectives of the company.  

With this overview of the evaluation models, you can pick the one that best covers your evaluation needs or even combine them to perform a robust analysis. But further than that, there are multiple tools that you can use to perform your analysis that can be applied when using these models.  

4. Leveraging Training Evaluation Tools for Comprehensive Analysis 

Implementing a comprehensive analysis lays the foundation for adaptive learning that focuses on the needs and preferences of learners to optimize results. Here we explore the most powerful tools to measure the outcomes of training and development.  


Questionnaires 

Surveys are a popular tool to gather quantitative and qualitative data from participants. They can be applied before, during and after the training sessions to gather opinions, measure learnings and assess behavioral change in the long term.  

Well-designed questionnaires that include Likert scales, open-ended and multiple-choice questions can help gather a broad scope of feedback that is vital to apply continuous improvements.  

Interviews and Focus Groups 

Another effective evaluation tool is interviews and focus groups. These two tools offer more in-depth qualitative data to understand the impact of training programs. While one-on-one interviews focus on the individual learner’s detailed feedback of their experiences, thoughts, and suggestions. Focus groups, facilitate group discussions where common areas of improvement can be uncovered such as course material, topics or formats. Make sure that focus group discussions are performed in a safre environment for the participant and use open-ended questions that motivate dialogue.  

Observations 

In-person assessment entails closely monitoring individuals throughout the instructional period or at their respective places of employment post-training. This strategy offers a chance to witness firsthand how well the material covered during training is implemented within real-life settings.  

This method allows instructional designers to observe gaps between course content and what is being practiced and understand how much knowledge has been retained by the employee. 

Case Studies and Simulations 

Using case studies and simulations can be useful to understand how well learners can apply the acquired knowledge after training. Both present participants with complex real-life problems that need to be solved. These tools are particularly can be used to analyze the impact of the training by assessing how employees handle job-related challenges. 

LMS Reporting: Comparative Analysis 

Learning Management Systems or LMS usually include powerful reporting capabilities that can be used to conduct a comprehensive analysis of training performance. They can track several metrics such as completion rates, assessment scores, and engagement levels of groups or individual employees by department or geographical area. This allows organizations to identify patterns and training areas that need attention.  

Learn more in our article: How to evaluate training with a learning management system.  

Leveraging a combination of all these evaluation tools can help organizations perform a complete analysis of their training programs. Each of the mentioned tools can give L&D teams and Instructional Designers a unique perspective of the performance of their training programs. Moreover, all these tools can be applied within evaluation methods throughout the training journey.  

5. Keeping track of your training: Evaluations before, during, and after training  

Gaining a comprehensive view of training before, during, and after can help HR and L&D teams work on improving the development plan of employees. In this overview we will cover three ways of assessing your training from beginning to end, which include tools used within the evaluation models mentioned before.  

Before training: Training needs analysis  

Performing a training needs analysis also known as TNA is an important step when planning out your training programs. It helps identify specific skills and knowledge gaps that need to be covered to meet the specific goals of the company. Moreover, it helps create a clear roadmap for implementing a corporate training plan.  

During training: Formative evaluation  

Formative evaluations are the ones that are applied during the training to track its performance. This ongoing evaluation may include questionnaires, focus group discussions or simulations. Monitoring the training process can help trainers quickly address any issues and enhance the learning experience.  

After training: Summative evaluation 

The summative evaluation happens right after the training has been completed. At this stage you will want to measure the training results against the initial objectives set out at the beginning. The data that is collected also helps determine the return of investment.  

Now that we have seen evaluation models and tools, and have defined what to track and assess before, during, and after training it is also important to have an overview of the type of metrics used to check if your training program has been successful.  

6. Training metrics to test the effectiveness of your training  

1. Training cost per employee  

The training cost per employee is extremely useful to plan out the budget for a specific course or your training programs for the whole year. Calculating this metric is very easy, as per AIHR Academy this is the formula used:  

2. Learner engagement  

While learner engagement metrics are not straightforward, most learning management software have built in analytic features that can be used analyze the engagement of employees. By analyzing data through an LMS you can assess the performance of each department and team or how quickly the courses are being completed. 

3. Training return on investment  

To get further support and stakeholder buy-in, knowing the return of investment of your training programs is an important best-practice. Here’s a training return on investment formula that the L&D Academy suggests:  

4. Training experience satisfaction  

Training experience satisfaction is one of the most used metrics after the training has been completed. One of the tools that can be used to measure the satisfaction of employees with their course content is to conduct a Net Promoter Score Survey. You can use this survey to evaluate the satisfaction of the overall training experience or at a more micro level of a specific course module.  

5. Course completion rate  

The course completion rate give you the percentage of employees that have finished a specific course. If you see that completion rates are low, you will want to analyze the reason why, these might include that the trainees are not interested in the content, maybe the course content is too long, and they lack the time to finish it, or they are not motivated due to the lack of feedback.  

6. Assessment pass rate  

Assessment pass rate, also known as Assessment Score, measures how many learners have passed or failed the evaluation test. This metric is particularly important when it comes to compulsory legal training such as compliance because it requires reporting, as opposed to other company training.  

In terms of this metric to analyze employee behavior towards course content, if pass rates are decreasing for a particular module there might be good reasons such as a lack of knowledge retention or that the assessment questions are not that clear.  

7. To sum up  

Conducting a comprehensive analysis of your training programs is essential for identifying learning gaps, evaluating the training’s impact on employees, and securing support from stakeholders. Utilizing various evaluation models and tools allows you to implement improvements effectively and understand the return on investment. This thorough approach ensures training programs are both impactful and aligned with organizational goals. 

isEazy LMS offers a complete learning solution to manage all your corporate training, communication, and internal knowledge in one single platform. With its powerful analytics tools you can track, evaluate, and optimize the progress of all your projects and measure their impact by employee, department, geographical area, or company. Excited? Request a demo to learn more.  

Frequently asked questions about training evaluation

Why is training evaluation important?

Training evaluation is important so that L&D Managers and Instructional Designers can measure how effective the training programs are. These evaluations ensure that learning objectives are met, that future improvements are applied and can demonstrate the return of investment to stakeholders.  

What are training evaluation models?

There are many evaluation models that are used as frameworks to assess training programs. Some of the most popular ones are Kirkpatrick’s Four-Level Training Evaluation Model, the Phillips ROI Model, Kaufman’s Five Levels of Evaluation, the CIRO Model, Anderson’s Model of Learning Evaluation, Brinkerhoff model, and the CIPP Evaluation Model 

What are the tools for training evaluation?

Some tools that can be applied to gather data that is key to evaluate training are: questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, observations, LMS Reporting: comparative analysis, case studies and simulations. 

What are quantitative evaluation tools?

Quantitative evaluation tools use numerical data to measure training effectiveness. Examples include training cost per employee, learner engagement, training return on investment, training experience satisfaction via NPS, course completion rates, and assessment pass rates 

How can training evaluation data be analyzed?

Training evaluation data used for corporate training can be analyzed using statistical methods, data visualization, and comparative analysis. This analysis helps identify trends, measure success against objectives, and pinpoint areas for improvement. 

Who benefits from training evaluation?

Employees, trainers, and organizations all benefit from training evaluation. Employees receive more effective training, trainers can improve their methods, and organizations see improved performance and ROI from their training investments. 

 

Nicole Bayer
CONTENT CREATED BY:
Nicole Bayer
Content Marketing Specialist at isEazy

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