Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Events #8-9: Assessing Performance & Enhancing Transfer

Arguably one of the most difficult tasks of training is the evaluation - and I would be lying if I said that I’ve mastered this skill. Measuring how well learners have retained the information is no easy task which is why I typically follow Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation.  Within Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction, Kirkpatrick’s model fits well.

I’ve been experimenting with performance assessment and I’ve found that, just as transfer of information should be tailored to the subject, so should the assessment. In the traditional classroom, evaluation takes on the form of a test. Assignments, games, role playing, and any other method that you may use to get learners performing the tasks independently is a mode of assessing performance. Tests are quantifiable as you have immediate gratification of what the learner’s have retained - but tests are usually taken at the end of training and do very little for sustained retention.

Games and role play can be good practice, but the measurements are qualitative and subjective. If instructing a large class, it may be difficult to observe all participants to accurately gauge their level of performance.

That leads us to assignments.  I personally like assignments that are given within the confines of a classroom setting but that can be completed or continued outside the classroom and have direct impact on their job. An assignment without instruction can leave the learner feeling lost, so I recommend to pair assignments and instruction carefully.

It can often seem like when the learner leaves the classroom, they leave behind all the information they acquired. Kirkpatrick’s levels 2, 3, and 4 address this concern. Giving an assignment will help assess the learner’s performance a week or two after training has been received, but trainers must rely on observation from supervisors to ensure that performance in maintained.

At this stage, communication is important between all parties involved - the trainer, employees, and supervisors. It is critical that the supervisor already be trained on the new information and that they allow employees the time to use that information they have just acquired. Enhancing the transfer of knowledge will occur on the job when the practices have been put in place and employees are actively using their new knowledge. It is crucial to keep the lines of communication open so that needs can be addressed and final assessments made to determine the success of the training.

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