Program objectives must focus on what trainees will learn by participating in the training program. They should be measurable and applicable to the work setting. Objectives also serve as the primary guidepost for the program evaluation process.
Collecting evaluation data occurs before, during, and after the program. Before the program, baseline data indicate the participants' current knowledge, skills, attitude, and/or information relative to procedures and operations. During the program, data are produced on participants' learning through observation, conversations, assessment, and questionnaires. At the end of the training program, changes in the participants' knowledge level and skill performance can be assessed, a cost-benefit analysis (economic value-added) can be made, and personal employee performance reviews can be further honed.
Program objectives may focus on the acquisition of knowledge, the enhancement of thinking skills, the development of psycho-motor skills, or a change in personal attitudes and values. These objectives are stated in terms of what adult learners will be able to know, do, and feel as a result of participation in the training.
Program objectives consist of:
- An opening statement-'The learner will be able to" (plus an action verb) "demonstrate.
- A description of the subject being taught-"the correct sequence in installing program A.
Selecting the content of a training program should be based on clear training objectives. Carefully identifying these objectives is essential to their successful achievement. Because of a trainer's time constraints, this can be a difficult step. Trainers must be careful to neither leave out important points and ideas, nor overemphasize secondary issues.
The order or sequence in which the training content is delivered is another significant consideration. How this is accomplished rests on the level of the trainee's prior knowledge, his or her personal experiences, and the nature of the content itself. For example, a trainer must begin a course sequence with familiar materials rather than new information, or with a framework that helps trainees organize what they are learning. A course could easily present learned tasks first, as well as broad concepts that apply throughout different course sequences.
A critical step in designing a training program is choosing the instructional techniques that best fit the specific content. The course developer considers the following learning strategies when making this decision:
- Acquisition of knowledge-lecture, group discussion, group exercise, buzz
- Thinking skills-case studies, critical incidents, games, simulations
- Psycho motor skills-demonstration with return demonstration by participants, skill drill
- Attitude change-group discussions, role playing, exercises, games
Program evaluation is not a one-shot event. Instead it is an ongoing process. Curriculum measures, in the form of pre- and post-tests or exercises, provide the instructor with information about participants' knowledge-skill base both prior to the program and after the program. Evaluation involves the assessment of the quality of the program, the delivery of the program by the instructor, and the effectiveness of the transfer of learning to the workplace.
The final aspect of program design, which is often ignored, is communicating the results of a training program. The Training Evaluation Pyramid summarizes these assessment options: measuring audience reaction, determining the degree of trainee learning, evaluating changes in employee behavior back on the job, and assessing the economic value added (EVA) by a training program (return on investment).
Training Program Implementation
Program trainers will either have developed the training program or will use a program already developed by someone else. In either case this trainer is responsible for the program's implementation. In some cases the trainer is also responsible for the logistics of the program; this requires attention to details and the ability to keep track of numerous tasks in a timely manner. The larger the program the more important it is to spend the time and effort needed before, during, and after its implementation to make sure it runs smoothly. For example, making sure there is adequate classroom space for the training is essential in order to facilitate the entire learning experience. In organizing facilities trainers need to keep in mind room arrangements and instructional equipment. Keeping a checklist is imperative when organizing the many activities and issues involved in implementing a training program.
Many companies use content experts as trainers, or they may use managers, supervisors, or professionals who are non-trainers by education and experience but who are experts in their field. Content experts understand business issues, have real-world experience in their field, possess current knowledge of its tools, and need shorter preparation time before training delivery. However, the risk involved in using content experts is their inexperience as trainers/adult educators. In this case, basic communication, presentation, and group facilitation skills can be offered through train-the-trainer workshops. Also content experts need to be aware of how adults go through the learning process in order to increase individual trainee motivation.
Today we know more about how to train than ever before. This knowledge has led to the development of train-the-trainer seminars and workshops that are presented by a variety of training companies and organizations. These seminars/workshops vary from a one-day Fred Pryor seminar to a four-and-one-half-day American Management Association seminar. The purpose of train-the-trainer seminars is to help the participants develop critical training competencies that they can use effectively. The content of most programs is similar; what varies is the depth of information presented and the opportunity to practice the skills learned with critical feedback, including the videotaping of presentations.
Train-the-trainers seminars focus on the instructional techniques needed to become a dynamic trainer. They are geared toward instructors rather than designers, but most include some basic design information such as writing objectives, determining and sequencing content, developing exercises, and using instructional methodologies. The content of these seminars can be broken down into the categories of principles of learning, program management, and delivery skills.