The impact a course has can take many forms, the issue for HR and L&D professionals is that it can go unnoticed easily if you don't know where to look / what to measure. This can lead to hard work being overlooked, success of teams being minimalised, and even training budgets being cut.
So let's find out how to measure all the impact your courses can have on leaners and the company as a whole.
Establish the questions to get the best answers
Not only is this good for the L&D team to know, but knowing what the CEO/'heads of' want to see, means monitoring impact in the areas that matter most to the company. Asking the following can help achieve this...
- What do we want to know?
- What are the learning objectives? (and company objectives)
- When do we want to measure?
- Which tool will we use?
- Which dimension do we want to dive in?
When the key areas are established, you can move on to identifying the different impact stages a course will hit, and how to measure those impacts.
This model shows the different stages of impact, from immediate to months down the line.
Satisfaction (also known as Reaction)
The simplest and first impact stage to measure is Satisfaction. You can assess whether the training was accepted by the learners and what they thought about it.
You can do this by:
- Asking learners anonymously if they want to take the course beforehand
- Asking learners during the course if they have any thoughts (especially relevant for those who are moving through the course slowly)
- Asking learners what they thought about the course when it's completed
This allows you to collect truthful answers which can be used to improve the training for future learners. Myskillcamp has a version of this we send internally, AND as a template to clients. In fact, we want to share it with you. Here's the post-course evaluation form. Feel free to make a form of your own using the same questions.
- Collect the responses (how many positive/negative)
- Measure the percentage change of positive/negative responses over time
- See the change of attitudes to the course at the end compared to the start
The second potential impact stage is Learning. This is a great way to see if your courses helped your learners acquire new skills.
You can do this by:
- Evaluating the learners' knowledge on the course's topic before taking the training
- Evaluating the learners' retention during the course
- Evaluating the learners' knowledge after taking the training (both straight after, and further down the line - to see how much knowledge they've retained)
- Establish the learners' base level of knowledge on the skill that the upcoming course will cover. This can be done with a test (perhaps the same test the learners will take after the course)
- Distribute small quizzes throughout the training to see whether each chapter is successfully being taught
- Set a final quiz at the end of the training with a minimum success rate of 80% correct answers. (If failed the learner will retake the course/chapter they failed again.
- Compare their post-course score with their pre-course score to see the knowledge gained.
- Ask learners to retake quiz in the future to see how much knowledge is retained.
The third impact to measure is the level of behavioural change the course had on the learners. This is very course specific but it can be measured.
You can do this by:
- Looking at what behaviours could potentially change BEFORE the course has started
- Monitoring behaviour individually, as a group (the group that took the course)
- Monitoring over a long period of time to track changes
As stated earlier, this impact isn't as black and white as 'Learning' and 'Satisfaction' as it depends on the course topic. So let's take learning how to use Adobe Photoshop as an example.
- Calculate how much time Photoshop has been used before the course
- Look if there's a Photoshop alternative the employees were using before. How much time did they spend using that instead?
- Monitor how many people are using Photoshop after the course
- Calculate how much time they spend using Photoshop per month after the course. You can also calculate this number against those who haven't yet taken the course.
- Plot the usage rate month per month
- Measure the decline of use of the Photoshop alternatives that may have been used before.
- Track any requests of a follow-up Photoshop course
Performance (also known as Results)
This is the final potential impact your course can have. This is also the one that c-suite managers will be the most interested in, as it relies on ROI and KPIs.
Your can measure performance by:
- Choosing courses that (if successful) could help learners achieve business goals
- Reviewing if a learner reached their yearly goals and what they attribute that success to
- See if time and money were saved after the course was completed
Let's keep the same course example as before, Adobe Photoshop, and see how it could impact performance
- Calculate how much money/time was spent on other editing apps before the course, or outsourcing to freelancers. Then calculate the saved time and money after the course.
- Look at the success rate of imagery before the course and the success rate of imagery after the course. (How many people clicked on ads? How much revenue was it generating before and after?
- Ask learners to rate how much the course helped them achieve their goals.
- Compare the performance of those who did take the course against those who did not.
- Plot any quantitive number against the overall cost of the course itself to track ROI.
Who measures what
All these measurements shouldn't be left to one person. After all, some impacts are qualitative rather than quantitive within certain teams, so relying on L&D and HR for everything won't be ideal.
The person in charge of the learning within an organisation should monitor the first two impacts:
This is because those two dimensions are directly related to the training and can be woven into the training itself.
Project Manager / Expert / Business Sponsor
These two dimensions should be managed by the head of the team. As this is a month by month, holistic approach, it'll take a while to see behavioural and performance changes. Similarly, it will be easier for the head of team to spot changes, and track goals being reached,
Since the impacts are measured by different people, it's important at the start of the year to meet and discuss what is needed by all participants. That avoids any potential impact being missed.
When do these impacts happen?
The different impacts are measured at different times. Satisfaction and Learning are best measured during and right after the course (otherwise known as a 'hot' evaluation), whereas Behaviour and Performance are measured further down the line ('cold' evaluation).
This is why it's important to keep track of results during the year, and to have a good idea of the business goals. After all, you're going to be issuing more than one course a year, so plotting timelines and gathering information is crucial.
Certain impacts can be measured with the help of your LXP, especially if you're a member of myskillcamp. As you have have the ability to build quizzes into the courses, review course satisfaction, analyse time spent and number of learners taking/completing the course; you won't have to spend so much time calculating impact yourself.
Watch the webinar
We know that measuring the success of courses can be difficult, so if you want a simple way to review this information, feel free to watch our webinar on the topic.