Training Assessment Methodology

All program assessment can be divided into two types— process and outcome. Process-oriented assessments are structured to collect information on what happens to people undergoing a training experience.

And outcome approaches focus on the changes (both positive and negative) that happen to the individual and/or organization as a result of training. Both types of assessment are frequently used to evaluate the success of a training effort. Neither of these assessment techniques to promote and better understand transfer effects is used often enough.

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There are several issues associated with the selection and use of assessment methodology. A fundamental concern associated with drawing conclusions from assessment is whether the instruments or procedures chosen will reliably detect change back on the job. Since assessment for transfer will, by definition be conducted some time after training and in an environment different from that of training, the procedures used must demonstrate situational relevance and temporal stability.

Relevance is established by identifying whether the measures used to assess the beliefs, behaviors or attitudes during training are likely to detect these same characteristics in the transfer setting.

The selection of particular dependent measures has differential utility for establishing out¬comes related to transfer effects.

For instance, both video recordings and direct observations of selling behavior may be made during training. But when these same procedures are used in the field, in the presence of custom¬ers, the nature of the selling situation is likely to change so dramatically that an accurate representation of transfer to the field situation could not be made.

In order to strengthen transfer, special assessment procedures must be used. For example, an assessment strategy that can be used for both process and outcome purposes, as well as to promote transfer effects, is a self-monitoring data collection and feedback system.

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By recording their own behavior each day, individuals are motivated to change and progress, thus, positive change can be maintained in the transfer environment. Keeping track, in a diary, of the number of times employees are praised for their accomplishments reminds the supervisor to use principles of positive reinforcement taught during training. It also illustrates how dispensing such reinforcement affects improvement.

When self-monitoring systems are occasionally supplemented by means of external surveillance systems (which can corroborate or extend the information gathered by self-monitoring), even more sustained maintenance can be expected. One way to accomplish this is by having the employees also keep track of the amount of praise they receive from the supervisor.

Periodic comparisons can be made to determine the correspondence between the two sources. The use of more automatic devices, such as television monitors, personal telemeters and electrical or mechanical counters, would also serve the same function.

Finally, we should consider the fol¬lowing factors when using assessment to promote transfer. First, how reactive are the procedures with the characteristic being measured? That. is, will the mere process of having the behavior measured produce a predictable change in it?

Second, are the cues associated with the assessment in the transfer environment obvious enough to remind individuals about their behavior? And is the feedback from the assessment delivered at appropriate intervals and in a practical way?

And, third, are consequences provided to groups or individuals for meeting or failing to sustain adequate performance standards in the transfer environment? This last issue relates to the establishment of performance standards in the transfer setting and the creation of a motivational system that allows individuals to meet these standards.

To the extent that much variation in transfer behavior is permissable, individually determined goals and reinforcement systems are acceptable.

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Source : Training Magazine