Measuring the success of a training program is a vital way of proving the cost effectiveness of that training. In addition, the provider wants to know that the skills learned are being implemented in the workplace, if attitudes are improved and if any gaps in the learning remain. Before the training starts, the trainer needs to set clear, achievable objectives and decide on the method he will use to assess the fruition of those objectives. Donald Kirkpatrick, in "Great Ideas Revisited," says four levels figure into the success of a training program -- reaction, learning, behavior and results -- and this success is measurable.
Set clear objectives before the training begins and explain those objectives to the trainees at the onset of the training program. Focus on achieving the objectives as you lead your trainees through the exercises. You, along with your trainees, can then measure the level of success because all involved know what is supposed to be achieved through the instruction.
Design a survey with questions that relate more to trainee satisfaction than to knowledge obtained and with answers that can be tabulated. Ensure that the survey is anonymous. Leave space at the end of the survey for additional comments. A positive reaction marked with favorable feelings is the first measurable level of a successful training program.
Create a comment sheet with questions like, "How knowledgeable was the speaker with the subject material?" "Was the speaker straightforward with his objectives?" Present questions that can assist in measuring knowledge gained, skills increased and attitudes modified. Conduct a brief written examination that tests before-and-after knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Form groups of managers and subordinates to measure any behavioral changes that took place as a result of the training. Each group will conduct interviews with before-and-after perspectives based on material covered during the training. During the interviews, managers and employees offer feedback to one another about attitude and behavioral changes. This, in turn, teaches all employees, managers and subordinates alike, how to give and take constructive criticism. Behavior is the third level and is clearly measurable.
Evaluate the results of the training. Measure the productivity in terms of before-and-after actions. For example, find out if the trainees now understand how to contact the Help Desk for additional assistance and whether the trainees now know how to follow the advice and/or steps that were covered in the training. Results, as a measurable element, represent the fourth level of success.