In this blog we focus on the Feedback Form or Evaluation Form that is issued when attending training. We look at why it’s important for all involved – those who deliver, those who attend and those responsible for the outcome.
In addition to the 3 roles; trainer, attendee and the owner (responsible for the overall outcome of the course/delivery), the final section covers some hints and tips on the construction of a feedback form.
If you take a Train The Trainer course as an example – we ran one to prepare trainers in 27 countries to train a new topic – the feedback form was used by the attendees, in our case the new trainers, to assess our performance and the usefulness of the course. As the course progressed and each person delivered their sample session, we as the course trainers and those who were acting as the attendees each give feedback on performance to help the new trainers on their performance. All this was in an environment where colleagues were facing the same daunting delivery task that they has never performed before, but each trainer was very supportive and gave constructive feedback.
The owner needs to know that the outlay for the training event has been worthwhile and be able to assess the value that the training has given in terms of both cost and performance. In the example above, 27 countries were ready to deliver effective training to their own teams with a support model being in place. The cost of bringing those people together for one week and the cost of developing a TTT (Train the Trainer) programme was insignificant when compared to the value it brought to those teams and their management. How did we know it was a success? Through feedback and evaluation.
The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model was first introduced in 1959 by Donald Kirkpatrick, a former Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. It has since undergone several iterations over the years and the most recent update, called the “New World Kirkpatrick Model,” was released in 2016.
The model outlines four levels of training evaluation:
The Kirkpatrick Model remains a popular and widely used evaluation strategy because of its simplicity and relevancy across industries and organisations.
Level 1 – Reaction – this is the Feedback Form issued at the end of a training session and sometimes referred to as the ‘Happy Sheet’ that gives the reaction of the attendees.
Level 2 – Learning – this can also be assessed in the form of a questionnaire or as a consolidation exercise as a follow-up soon after the training event or even at the end of the training session itself.
Level 3 – Behaviour – this generally requires observation of the tasks being performed.
Level 4 – Results – if suitable statistics have been obtained pre-training, post-training statistics should be taken and the difference can be shown and proven. If not, questionnaires can be put in place to analyse the positive effect post training.
Understanding how the attendees perceived the training can give you an insight into what is working well or needs improvement. Use the feedback to help you identify areas for improvement and consider possible changes for future iterations of the training. If this is not required, the Feedback Form will provide the evidence.
When delivering training, a speech or seminar topic, you wonder how it is being received by your audience and without getting distracted from the delivery itself you look for indicators in the behaviour and reactions. This allows you to adapt slightly, but essentially the content has to be delivered. It is a good idea to run a pilot course before the main delivery. At the end of the course you will know if there have been any glitches, but your audience may not be aware of them depending on how well you dealt with them at the time. In a classroom or auditorium environment this is much easier than via a screen on a video conferencing call.
The purpose of the form for the trainer is so that improvements can be made for future deliveries based on the feedback given and to ensure learning has taken place. That’s obvious isn’t it? Were the aim and objectives met? Did you cover all the topics in a timely manner? However, the feedback forms can often be just a ‘tick in the box’ exercise where neither the trainer nor the owner takes full responsibility to act on the comments which defies the purpose of such forms. An action either as recognition of an improvement in delivery, an amendment to the content or a re-think of the way forward of the whole programme may be required. The latter is rather drastic and would only take place after a specific point is consistently received on a feedback form and had not been spotted on a pilot run through of the course. Of course, no follow up actions may be required at all which is what we as trainers all strive for.
As a trainer myself, I look forward to and dread the handing over of the completed feedback forms. At the close of the course when the last person has left the room I tend to have a superficial tidy up, grab a strong coffee and nip outside for a ciggie. That is where I personally take stock of how the course went as a whole, consider what was good, what not so good and specifically where I could have done better. Having had the chance to wind down from the ‘course delivery high’, and completed the tidying of the room, then and only then do I feel better able to take the time to absorb the scores and the comments made. I may even have taken them home and looked at them in more detail from the comfort of my sofa! We are all different, though.
As an attendee the end of the course brings the inevitable completion of one of these feedback forms. The hardest thing I think is to cast your mind back over the course and make a call as to the good and not so good bits. What makes it harder is if the course is over several days because a single day or single topic is not so hard to score. Were all the objectives met? What were they? How interative was the course for me? What did I learn? Maybe it would be helpful to have the objectives listed at the point where the form is to be completed to make the assessment easier.
As an attendee how prone are you to tick the boxes and make minimal comments so that you can get away, beat the traffic and get home after the course?
All comments and scores help the trainer or deliverer to improve for the next attendees so try to use your judgement and give helpful constructive feedback. If something didn’t work for you, say why. If you found a topic hard to grasp, then try to give a reason that the trainer can work on.
As the owner or person responsible for the outcome of training, after all courses on the same topic have been delivered the overall effectiveness and achievement of the aims and objectives are assessed. Any follow ups or amendments for future sessions made by the trainer can be validated.
The results of the training will speak for themselves in the improvement in performance of the team as a result of attending a well-designed course which includes supporting mechanisms. The training event is supported by the training materials that are issued for ongoing use back on the job. Documented processes and reference material as part of delivery provide a support structure and the development of a key user network goes a step further to putting in place a really effective network and team. As an owner of a training event, these additional supporting mechanisms are critical to the ongoing performance of their teams.
The feedback form results will also be collated and referenced as part of a training evaluation for the owners and sponsors.
Hints and Tips on Construction
One of my pet hates is the question “How do you rate the course overall?”
Such a difficult one to answer but it appears time and again.
My recommendation is that the feedback form concentrates on specifics such as the achievement of the aim and objectives.
Make it ONLINE and interactive. If all else fails, you can print off a version for distribution in a face to face situation. Use commercial software such as Survey Monkey for distribution of an online form or create it using the forms facility in Microsoft Word and distribute as an attachment.
To learn what your employees think about your training programme, you can send out a survey immediately following the session. Consider asking questions like the following:
- Was the presentation engaging?
- Which of the following objectives (list them) were achieved?
- Did you feel the training was worth your time?
- How will you apply what you learned to your job?
- What did you like about the style or method of training?
- What would you change or improve for future training?
- What additional resources or support do you need to apply what you learned?
You can also track metrics such as participation rate, completion rate, and time spent on training (useful for self-directed online training courses).
Avoid using a scale of odd numbers such as 1-5 (or odd number of headings eg Excellent, Very Good, Average, Fair, Poor) as anyone completing who is not too sure where their feelings lie may plump for the middle option!
Use a mix of question types. Use:
- Yes/No – or equivalent
- Multiple Choice – where as many can be selected as appropriate
- Multiple Options, Single Answer – list several alternatives seeking the correct answer
- Open/Free Type – explanation in own words
- Scroll boxes – these are available for an online form
There are many free templates available on the internet, but here is one of ours that is used for training delivery on a Train The Trainer course. We have included the Word Version so that you can adapt and use as you wish. To access it click on the link and you will be taken to the Resources page of our website.
Remember that the Feedback Form is part of a much bigger picture of evaluation and can be used in all four levels.
Here is a link to a form we created to assess learning at level 2 in a SAP MDG project.
Ensure that you design the form to get the information you require. We cover more on the Kirkpatrick Model and evaluation techniques in several of our courses. Find out more by checking out the Courses page for further details. Our courses cover Delivery Online, Creating Super User Networks, Presentation Skills and our Training Skills For Better Performance course.
18 May 2020