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How Effective is Your Training? Focus on Measurements that Matter

— by Trina Rimmer

Business goalsLearning developmentTraining

I've got a real problem with my six-year old son's nightly reading log. While I understand the importance of establishing good reading habits early, reading books for the sake of filling out the log has turned what was once a nightly event worthy of joy and anticipation, into a chore. And for what? A paper trail? Even my son's first grade teacher concedes that filling out a reading log doesn't assess his reading abilities and only fulfills tracking criteria mandated by our state.

Just as logging after-school reading activities is no measure of a child's reading comprehension, neither is a post-training quiz if it's incapable of measuring anything meaningful or performance-related. Don't waste precious time and energy on learning road blocks when you can build paths to progress.  Before you default to quizzing your trainees, ask yourself:

Why am I quizzing?

If your training is designed to help realize an increase in lead conversions from the sales team, isn't tracking those conversions a more worthwhile measurement of your training's success than a quiz?  Why waste everyone's time with quizzes that only measure your sales team's memorization of statistics or processes that don't impact their ability to actually convert leads into sales?

Am I training for ideas or actions?

If you find that there's a real value in quizzing your trainees, try to maximize quiz effectiveness by crafting questions around skills that support behaviors, i.e. specific, measurable, actionable, achievable, and observable.

How can I write better quiz questions?

Writing good quiz questions isn't easy for everyone so here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Avoid writing quizzes that feel like a game of  Trivial Pursuit, prompting learners to merely recall facts and figures rather than apply their new knowledge to resolve a problem in a meaningful, job-related way.
  • Reword “recall” questions into scenario-based questions. For example, instead of “Which of the following items are a not a benefit of product x?” reword the question to, “A customer asks you why she should buy your company's slightly more expensive product over a competitor's cheaper version with similar features. Which of the following product x benefits should you highlight to distinguish our product from the competition?
  • Get the most out of quizzing by using a pre-training assessment instead of, or in addition to, a post-training quiz. Not only does pre-testing help you build buy-in with your training audience, it also serves as a benchmark for trainees helping them to focus on key knowledge areas where their performance may be a little lacking.

Looking for more practical tips on evaluation and measurement?  Check out some of these posts from the Mindflash archives.

>> More from Trina Rimmer on the Mindflash blog.

Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with thirteen years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.

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