Make a commitment
So think about who your stakeholders are, define the nature of their stakeholding, weigh their importance, and based on that weighting, decide how much to ask of each stakeholder. However the bottom line is that they all need to be on board.
Total Value Add is the technique for identifying all of the value generated by learning – all the forms of that value, not just economic or financial – and deciding whether and how to measure it. It’s also about taking a situational view, and choosing pertinent evaluation techniques on the basis of the given situation and business need.
Clarify your purpose
- Is it about controlling large-scale training delivery, to ensure consistency or provide quality assurance?
- Is it about finding ways to improve the training and make it more effective or efficient (formative evaluation)?
- Is it about proving training has made a difference, measuring results or impact (summative evaluation)?
- Is there are a broader purpose for the organisation to learn from the evaluation?
Clarifying your general purpose should help in focusing in on your more specific purposes.
Determine your evaluation strategy
Setting out this strategy will help ensure that you and your colleagues stay true to your purpose.
Select your approach
If you want to track the quality of the learning experience, what learners actually learn, what they transfer to work, and the results for the organisation, you probably need to take a goal-based approach. Alternatively, if you want to conduct a more objective review of what actually happens with a learning and development initiative, regardless of intentions or objectives, you probably need to take a system-based approach (if you don't understand the choice, you need help – see point six).
Do you fully understand how to implement techniques like Total Value Add, Business Impact Modelling, Return on Investment, and the Success Case Method? If not, you need someone who can help you master the techniques that are important for you.
There are many learning providers, consultants and academics who claim they can help with learning evaluation, but too often they want to champion one specific approach or method, and denigrate everything else. Forget them and their dogma. Instead, think about these six things, and find people who can help you take it from there.
Milne, A.A., (1927) 'The Old Sailor', Now We Are Six, Methuen
Kenneth Fee and Dr Alasdair Rutherford are the founding directors of learning evaluation firm Airthrey Ltd. Ken is a career learning and development professional, whose latest book, 101 Learning & Development Tools, deals with evaluation among other topics. Alasdair is an evaluation and econometrics specialist, and a Research Fellow at the University of Stirling
Charity Director. Consultant in OD, strategic HR and leadership development. Author of five books including Delivering E-Learning (Kogan Page, 2009). Interested in strategy, OD, leadership, technology, evidence and evaluation. Available for writing and speaking.