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  • Writer's pictureIrina Ketkin

How to Measure Learning and Development

Imagine you invested in a really expensive course to improve your presentation skills. But how do you tell if it truly made a difference? That's the challenge at the heart of measuring L&D effectiveness.

 

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most fundamental things you need to know about measuring Learning and Development.




Table of Contents:

 





What is learning evaluation?


"Evaluation is the total worth or value of L&D in monetary and non-monetary terms" (Sandler-Smith, 2006). So, really, there are 3 key elements here: worth or value, monetary and non-monetary. Let’s try to make sense of these.

 

Worth or Value of L&D

 

What exactly is the worth or value of L&D?  We provide trainings and coaching, mentoring, on-the-job learning, online courses and many other learning experiences.

 

But why is that important? You could say that we help people develop and therefore, the organization develops through its people. And that make sense. But let’s be honest – no Chief Financial Officer will ever be satisfied with such an answer. What they need to know is what is our worth in numbers. And so we arrive at the other two key elements – monetary and non-monetary value.

 

Monetary L&D metrics

 

In the monetary metrics, you would look for things like:

  • The L&D budget and spending

  • How many people attended

  • How many didn’t show up

  • How many new learning programs were launched

  • How many training hours each employee had

  • Return on investment

  • Cost of training vs. cost of not training

  • Reduction in turnover costs

  • Increased sales or production output

  • Reduction in waste or error rates, etc.

 

Non-monetary L&D metrics

 

In the non-monetary column, you would put things like:

  • How satisfied were learners after each intervention

  • What was the employee engagement with various L&D activities

  • How much time does it take to master a competence

  • How was performance improved as a result of the learning

  • How confident learners were before and after the learning event(s)

  • How many internal promotions happened

  • What was the employees turnover rate

  • How learning events have influenced the organizational culture, etc.


What to measure


There are several authors and popular models out there (like Kirkpatrick’s 4 Levels and Phillips ROI). But at the heart of it, there are 7 things you want to measure:

  1. Reactions – Did participants like the learning event(s)?

  2. Knowledge – What knowledge did participants gain and retain?

  3. Skills – What skills did participants gain and retain?

  4. Attitude – How are participants behaving differently?

  5. Application – Are participants applying what they have learned back on the job?

  6. Results – What is the effect of the learning event(s) on the business’s bottom line?

  7. Return on Investment (ROI) – what is the monetary return on investment of the learning event(s)?

 

How to measure it

 

At your disposal, you have several research methods and data collection options. Let’s break it down for each of the 7 metrics:

 

Reactions

Who? Participants/Learners

When? End of learning event

How? Happy sheet/satisfaction survey

 

Knowledge

Who? Participants, learning facilitator

When? Before, during and after learning event

How? Pre-course test / post-course test

 

Skills

Who? Participants, learning facilitator, L&D staff

When? Before, during and after learning event

How? Role plays, case studies, exercise, interview with participant’s manager(s)

 

Attitude

Who? Participants, their supervisor(s), reports and/or peers

When? 3-6 months after learning event

How? Survey (360-degree feedback), interviews with participants’ and their supervisor(s), observations, performance appraisals

 

Application

Who? Participants, their supervisor(s)

When? During and 6-12 months after learning event

How? Action plans created during learning event(s), post-event interview of participants and their supervisor(s), questionnaire

 

Results

Who? Participants and control group

When? 6-12 months after learning event

How? Cost-benefit analysis, tracking operational and performance data, employee retention, sales revenues, engagement surveys, number of customer complaints, customer services ratings, operating costs, product defects, etc.

 

ROI

Who? L&D Staff

When? 3 to 12 months, end of the fiscal year

How? Cost-benefit analysis, trend lines, participants and supervisor’s estimates, ROI formula.


Challenges of measuring L&D


If I speak Spanish fluently, is it because of my teacher, the curriculum, the classmates who helped me, or because I lived in Spain for a year where I had to speak Spanish?

 

This is the biggest challenge of measuring L&D. There are many different factors affecting someone’s performance. How can you isolate the ones that are directly affected by learning?

 

There isn’t a simple way to solve this. As an L&D professional, you must employ a nuanced approach, combining quantitative metrics with qualitative insights to capture the holistic impact of learning experiences. This involves not just looking at test scores or completion rates but also gathering feedback, observing behavioral changes, and considering external factors that contribute to performance.

 


 

Sources:

  • Elkeles, T., Phillips, J. and Phillips, P. (2017). The Chief Talent Officer. 1st ed. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

  • Kirkpatrick, D. (2007). The Four Levels of Evaluation. Alexandria: American Society for Training & Development.

  • Phillips, J. J. (1991). Handbook of training evaluation and measurement methods. (2nd ed.). Houston, TX: Gulf.

  • Sadler-Smith, E. (2006). Learning and development for managers. Cornwall: Blackwell Publishing.

 

 

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