Last week, when talking about successfully co-facilitating or co-delivering training I mentioned the importance of reviewing what you are delivering. Without reviewing or evaluating your work you don’t know how effective your training is and you will never improve in your practice.

I think there are four people or groups of people it is worth including in the evaluation process of your training – yourself, your peers such as a co-facilitator or another trainer who could come and observe you, the learners and any stakeholders. Stakeholders are those who have a vested interest in how effective the training is, for example, colleagues or managers of the learners, if it is work-based training.

Here are some ideas about how to go about evaluating your training and how often to do this.

Self-Reflection

This could be as formal or informal as you feel it needs to be. You may find it useful to have an evaluation sheet where you answer the same questions after each course or session so you can see the differences in your responses and see the change in your practice over time. You may not been keen on creating paperwork like this and rather just think through how it went, note any moments you felt went particularly well, or not and think about why. I used to go through this thought process on the way home from delivering and I would jot down any key things I felt I needed to remember or act on before I next delivered.

Peer Feedback

When you are co-facilitating or co-delivering I think this should happen naturally. While you are packing up at the end of the session you could have a quick chat about what you felt went well, what didn’t and bounce ideas around about why that was and what needs to change. If I was unsure about a bit I delivered I would ask for feedback from my colleague about what they thought of it. Remember, when asking for feedback you don’t have to take the advice on board. Someone once told me that feedback is a gift and it is up to you whether you decide to use it but you should accept it politely. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a discussion with them about it but don’t argue with them over their opinion, especially if you asked for the feedback.

If you aren’t co-facilitating or even if you are and think another person’s input would be useful, then invite a colleague along to observe your course. Ask them to be critical and to take notes. This should be someone whose opinion you value but shouldn’t be a good friend. The purpose of this type of exercise is to improve your practice, not to get an ego boost. Now, if you do a fantastic job, your course planning is solid and your delivery equally on point then you may well have an ego boost coming your way anyway but the ability to learn from constructive critique is possibly more valuable.

If you are asking someone to come and observe you let them know beforehand if there are any particular areas you would like them to focus on, whether you just want feedback on delivery and how you engage with the learners or whether you are interested in their views on course content as well. It may be that the same observer isn’t right to focus on both of those things. One requires a training expert, the other a subject expert but obviously the two can be found in one individual.

When receiving feedback from your observer make sure this is done at the right time and place. I will be looking at this in more detail next week.

Feedback From Learners

At the end of every training session I would ask for some kind of feedback from the learners. If it was a short session, perhaps part of a longer course, I would gain this feedback in quite an informal way. In a small group, who knew each other fairly well, I would go round and ask for feedback verbally, because I was confident they would give me their genuine views. In a larger group, where that type of feedback would take too long I’d ask for views on post-it notes. With my groups of Youth Workers and young people, when I was working in Youth Work settings, I would play games as a more relaxed and (hopefully) fun way of hearing their views.

At the end of a longer course or a very full whole day course, I would ask for feedback from learners in a more formal way. Most of the time now, I would do this via a Survey Monkey form. This way the learner has a chance to go away and process what they have learnt on the course. This way of gaining feedback is usually more effective than the way I used to get feedback, which was to had out an evaluation form at the end of the training for learners to complete then and there and give to me as they left. These would usually be rushed becasue they wanted to go home and also, everything was all still too fresh in their minds. The down side of Survey Monkey is that learners may not complete it but usually enough people are keen to have their say for it to be a worthwhile way of doing things.

Even if you feel the training you have delivered has gone well, you don’t really know until you receive feedback from the learners. Just because it went well and everyone left in a good mood, it doesn’t mean they actually learnt anything, so it is so important that you evaluate with your learners in some way.

Feedback From Stakeholders

Quite often I found that stakeholders, especially the of managers of learners, were more than happy to offer feedback. If a course hadn’t provided their staff member with the knowledge they expected, then their feedback would be offered without having to request it at all! If the course was going well, then if I requested feedback then they were happy to give it because they appreciated the time and effort we, as trainers, put in to enable their staff members to be more effective in their roles.

I would sometimes try and get feedback from service users about whether they felt the service they were receiving had improved from staff attending training. This isn’t as easy to evaluate. Obviously a service user won’t necessarily be aware that the staff member has been trained or what the course should have taught them, but if they are a regular user they may have noticed a change in confidence in the staff member over time or have been particularly impressed by something they were knowledgable on. All of this can be used as evidence to show that your course is having a positive impact.

Evaluation methods

I have touched on some evaluation methods but how you evaluate the course really is quite specific to what you are delivering, how you are delivering it and the nature of the learners. I have many evaluation tips and tools that I have used in the past and if you would be interested in finding out about these then let me know, either in the comments below or on my Facebook page and we can have a chat about your training and I will suggest some methods you could use.

Next time

I will be giving some tips on giving and receiving feedback.