The topic of evaluating training events is quite a tricky one. There are several evaluation models out there and articles delving deeper and deeper into what should we exactly try to measure? On the surface level you just want to make sure that the basics were good – the arrangements, logistics, catering, invitations and how people felt about attending the class (including materials and trainer experience). This kind of feedback helps you to improve how you go about setting up classes, inviting people and which trainers are better than others in conducting a particular course.
It is also true though, that there are quite a number of people who can be categorized as “training tourists.” They attend several classes, enjoy meeting new people/colleagues, enjoy the food and especially the fact that they are not expected to be behind their desks for the duration of the class. They don’t actually learn anything, nor do they intend to learn anything and they do fill up your class and may take up places that could have been better reserved for those who actually did have the intention to learn something. This surface level training evaluation will not show you whether one of those people have attended your session or not since it does not measure whether learning has taken place, whether behavior has changed or whether the value created by those who attended the training have increased after their attendance.
But let’s not try to solve world-hunger just yet. It is always good to have a surface level evaluation especially if it is the first time that you are using a particular venue, catering/event vendor or training company. The attachment which I am sharing below is a good basic level evaluation to help you understand whether the basics did go well or not.
- Get their impressions immediately. Expecting people to follow an online link and complete a training class evaluation electronically after the event can be difficult as people may have to travel back to their offices or may get sucked into the day-to-day activities pretty fast after the class. This means they may have forgotten a lot of the impressions you were hoping to capture by the time they see your online link. Consider using paper copies of the evaluation and collecting the responses before people leave the location.
- Illegible comments. It is a good idea to give each submission a quick overview while the person is still around in case you can’t read their handwriting very easily after the event. I have seen training support personnel spend quite a bit of time trying to puzzle and interpret a comment written down in haste at the end of a session.
- Focus on the trends. In most cases the most important factor to look for in the consolidation of responses is the extremes: what are the highest scores and the lowest scores? Then check for comments which may help you understand those extreme scores. The trends will give you a quick check on whether anything was considered completely out of the ordinary or as expected by participants.
- Cultural impact. The way that people look at scoring on an evaluation sheet can vary quite dramatically among employees from different companies or different geographical regions. In some regions or companies it may be considered impolite to be overly critical while in other regions or companies a critical eye may be considered a sign of intelligence. Bear that in mind when you try to interpret scores for a group that may be made up of non-homogeneous participants.