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Trainer’s Tip: Evaluating Vocational Training


TrainingZONE member Alex Paterson explains how his organisation evaluates vocational training.

We did it from two angles: the student's and the manager's.

1) From the student's angle we identified what the course's intended learning outcomes were and grouped them under "skills" (you could call them whatever you like depending on the nature of the course) headings e.g. Briefing Skills, which included preparing maps, preparing PowerPoint Presentations, preparing operation orders, etc. We then developed a questionnaire to be sent to the students three months after the course ended asking:
a) How often they had used the skills.
b) How useful the skills had been,
c) How important the skills were (a skill might only be used once or twice but could be vital whereas a frequently used one might be quite unimportant). The replies gave us a very accurate measure of how useful the course was from the students' perspectives.

2) From a manager's point of view we asked the same questions but from an organisational point of view e.g. Had the student's ability to do XYZ improved after attending the course? Had the student required any further training? How had the student's learning contributed to the organisation's objectives / mission?

The emphasis was on getting managers to take a strategic point of view and the students a more operational point of view. In practice we found the students to be more critical of the courses than managers, with both students and managers having an equal grasp of the strategic significance of the learning.

As well as the above we had a standard series of questions that students answered within a week of completing the course that asked the same questions. The interesting part was that we sometimes got very different answers after the students had time to apply their learning in the work environment. The downside was the time spent developing questionnaires for each course attended (we only did it for the more frequently attended courses).

We did try a standard set of questions that could be applied to all courses attended but found them to be unfit for purpose in that we wanted more detail than a one size fits all could provide.


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