Evaluation In The Process Of Learning And Development
Evaluation in the process of learning and development is a process that is used to study the outcome of the learning process with the aim of informing the design of future learning processes. It can be termed as a comparison between the actual and real expectations from a learning process with the predicted outcome from the same process. The emphasis or evaluation is the need to reflect on what was achieved in the process in comparison with what was expected (Mavin, S. Lee, L. &Robson, and F. 2004).
Validation is the process that involves a confirmation that an existing programme that is used in the process of learning and development is effective and therefore it can be incorporated or continued to be used. It can be used in some contexts instead of accreditation although validation is not explicitly linked to evaluation on a conceptual level; validation can be termed as being based on evaluation.
Assessment refers to a process by which information is obtained relative to known objective or goal of a process of learning and development.assesment uses instruments and processes o collect information of performance characteristics. The process of assessment can therefore include testing which is special form of assessment. Tests are assessments that are made under contrived circumstances so that they can be administered. Evaluation can therefore use information from assessment to support decisions on changing or discarding instructional practices in learning process.
Monitoring involves the establishment of indicators of how efficient, effective and the impact the learning process has. It entails the setting up of systems to collect information that relate to these indicators and using this information to make decisions on the overall process of learning. Monitoring involves various tools such as questions, assignments, periodic reviews, correction tests and performance data collecting and recording. Monitoring can be viewed as an aspect of evaluation since through monitoring conclusive decisions can be made on the evaluation process. Therefore monitoring and evaluation can be termed as central in the sustainability of a learning process.
Evaluation is a very important aspect of the learning and development process. Its typical purpose can be divided and looked at considering different stake holders in the learning and development process. These stake holders are; the organizations there are many reasons why organizations should evaluate their learning and development activities. First evaluation helps in making decisions on the appropriate interventions which can be used in future. It can also be used as a tool for providing evidence of the organizations investment and demonstrate the value interventions have to the organization. It is also useful in the reinforcement of the importance evaluation process in the organization. It can also be a tool useful for the organization in identification of better ways of achieving things rather than through the provision of formal learning and development interventions.
Other stakeholders who benefit from evaluation are individuals. Evaluations provide individual learners with an opportunity or platform to give feedback to their trainers. This is particularly useful when evaluation is done early on in the process so that they benefit effectively from any adjustments that will be made. If feedback is acted upon then individuals in subsequent cohorts benefit from evaluation. This is especially the case when individual learners take the time to actively engage in the process of evaluation and give honest feedback in the relevant areas.
The information on evaluation process may also be used as a performance indicator that justifies the existence of training departments or the appropriateness of investment in trainers. Trainers or facilitators benefit from evaluations since they can update or make amendments accordingly especially when working in specific sectors or organization types. Trainers may also depend on their feedback to gain new clients as an indicator of their quality provision and delivery (Mavin, S. Lee, L. &Robson, 2004).
When learning and development plans are set up by organizations, two aspects are usually looked at and these are Return on Investment and Return on Expectations.
Return on investment
This is a way that is used in the consideration of profits in relation to the capital that has been invested. To calculate ROI, the benefit of the investment is divided by the cost of the investment and the result expressed as a percentage or a ratio. By measuring the RIO an organization can establish the result of certain levels of investment and therefore use the information in the determination of a future strategy of the learning and development of the staff. Therefore organizations carry out RIO for various purposes such as controlling which means that certain levels of the learning and development process are monitored, improving the current programmes of learning and development to ensure that they get better in future and finally learning which is a demonstration that evaluation is a very critical part of the learning and development process as a whole (Mulvie, 2004).
Return on expectations
This means what successful training initiative is able to deliver key business stakeholders that demonstrate the degree to which expectations have been satisfied. Therefore the process of learning and development should not be isolated from the business rather it should be linked and intergraded to the business so that the expectations of the business are met. Senior leaders in organizations should put their focus on ROE since it leads to a result.ROE can be measured in three steps which are planning, execution and demonstration of value. The management should therefore state clearly what they perceive as value since ROE is the ultimate indicator of value for an organization.
There are various methods that are available for evaluation and they can be described by the Donald Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of training evaluation. The first level is reaction; the assessment of the thoughts of a particular program by trainees. This is to what degree participants react favorably to the learning event. The second level is learning that entails the learning of principles, facts, skills and attitudes specified by training objectives. This shows to what degree those who participate acquire intended knowledge, skills and attitudes based on their participation in the learning events. The third level is behavior that involves measurements of aspects of job performance related to training objectives. This is to what degree the participants apply what they have learned from training when they are at the job. The fourth level is results which is the relating of results of training programme to the organizations objectives and criteria’s of effectiveness. This is to what degree the outcomes occur as a result of the events of learning and the reinforcement that follow (Mulvie, 2004).
There are various evaluation tools and each have some merits that are attached to them. These include questionnaires, which is a series of questions asked to individuals to obtain information. Its merit is that if it properly constructed and administered responsibly they become vital instruments by which a reliable evaluation can be done. Assessment is another tool for evaluation that involves the process of documentation in measurable terms knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs .its merit is that it can focus on individual learners and hence a useful tool in the evaluation of the effectiveness of the learning and development process on an individual basis. Filling of evaluation sheets toward the end of learning sessions is also another tool used in evaluation. The merit of this tool is that it is a quick process for respondents as usually it is a simple process. Learners are asked questions that involve the selection of appropriate responses hence data can easily be compiled and summarized easily. Therefore evaluation tools need to be easy to understand and in formats that are quick to complete so that maximal returns are obtained. These tools should also be comprehensive enough to include all necessary information (Mavin, S. Lee, L. &Robson, 2004).
When Improvements to training are made the trainers are the ones to agree changes with This is because they have all the information on the appropriate training techniques that will give good results as they have vast experience.
Mulvie, A. (2004).The evaluation of learning and development. Retrieved November 26, 2012 from http://corporatelevation.co.uk/pdf/The%20evaluation%20of%20learning%20and%20development.pdfMavin, S. Lee, L. &Robson, F. (2004). The evaluation of learning and development in the workplace. Retrieved November 26, 2012 from http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/static/5007/hrpdf/hefce/hefce_litreview.pdf