Post-Course Survey Development: A Practical Approach with Valid and Reliable Results

Post-Course Survey Development: A Practical Approach with Valid and Reliable Results

Scott Frasard (University of Illinois - Chicago, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9983-0.ch010
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Evaluating workplace training often involves using participant surveys to gather information about effectiveness. Unfortunately, how well these surveys are designed will play a major role in the information quality used to make conclusions. Following a proper survey design method will improve data quality and help trainers better understand what these data truly mean. Additionally, as a first step in a chain of evidence, properly designed post-course surveys will play a key role in connecting training with any on-the-job changes. This chapter will describe in detail a survey design process adapted from Spector (1992) to yield key insights about training's design, trainer and participants' interactions during training, and participants' perceived value of attending.
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Training Evaluation

Evaluating training programs can be simple or complex and range from gathering information on participants’ satisfaction to determining a precise financial return attributable to training efforts. Regardless, the primary purpose of any evaluation is “to render judgments about the value of whatever is being evaluated” (Fitzpatrick, Sanders & Worthen, 2011), which can take place at one or more of many levels. While many evaluation models exist, two models are foundational to the field: Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick’s “four levels” model and Phillips’ five-level ROI model.

Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick (2007) espouse a four-level evaluation hierarchy. The first level involves measuring customer satisfaction, or the reaction to the training. This involves determining how participants felt about the training and typically involves conducting surveys. The second level involves measuring how much participants learned as a result of attending the training. This level typically involves conducting tests of knowledge or skills to determine if participants know information or are able to do something taught in the training. The third level assesses changes in behaviors on the job following training. A measure of transfer of learning, this evaluation level helps to determine if training is a proximal cause, provided the opportunities to use the new knowledge or skill exist within the organization following training. Finally, the fourth level seeks to determine what, if any, business results are attributable to training. These results can take the form of business metrics or other indications of a “return on expectations” (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick, 2007).

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