One of the most common tools used by most training organizations to determine the success of a training session is an end of course survey—also known as a “smile sheet” or a Level 1 evaluation (the Kirkpatrick model). The information from these smile sheets can be used to evaluate learning during class, performance back on the job, organizational impact, and to provide a fuller picture of the value of training within an organization.
Here are five reasons you should use an “end of course survey” in your training sessions:
1. Voice of the Customer
We live in a customer satisfaction oriented world. Cable companies, fast food franchises, airlines, car manufacturers, etc. all want to know what their customers think of the services they provide, and how they can improve them. These factors help their clients make purchasing decisions. The world of training is the same. Within an organization, training competes with other strategies for developing employee performance improvement. People learn how to do their jobs through coaching from management and peers, by trial and error, or by water cooler conversations. Training departments exist to rapidly move employees to proficiency in their jobs, so, what our consumers think about the training programs we deliver is an important piece of the pie. These tools are our way to listen to our consumer’s voice.
2. Acknowledge Your Learners
The “end of course survey” not only provides important information to the training organization but also shows the participants that we care about their opinions. It provides learners with an opportunity to express both positive and negative opinions, and an outlet to defuse any issues they may have. For example, I travel often by air and am frequently surveyed after the trip. Sometimes I might be unhappy with aspects of the flight, yet when I have a chance to express my dissatisfaction, I tend to forget about the issue and move on more quickly.
3. Powerful Feedback Tool for Management
Successful training managers are concerned about the quality of their deliverables and their staff. They recognize that there will always be extremes in survey responses and take this into account in the overall averages. For example, if ten people give the maximum score to a course or an instructor, and one person gives a low score, it could just be that the participant was having a bad day and needed to vent. Reaction surveys are not facts—they are opinions. The “end of course survey” gives management an “apples-to-apples” comparison of the learner’s view of the training program, the facilities, and the course delivery, and allows them to fine-tune their training department’s effectiveness.
4. Polish the Diamond!
A solid instructor always wants to be a better instructor and do the best he/she can, so sometimes we can be emotionally involved with the outcome of our training sessions. It’s a good idea to let the dust settle before reviewing the training session evaluations. Try waiting a while before you review them and then read them looking for actionable tips. Ratings in a class often are contradictory (e.g. “pace too slow” or “pace too fast”). Other times, the design of the course will shape some of the scores (e.g. “too much practice”). However, sometimes little comments or suggestions have validity and can be incorporated into your future training plans without a problem.
5. Put It in Context
The way participants react to a course is an important part of evaluating the overall results of the training. If someone doesn’t like a class or an instructor, they often don’t do well in the course. If they aren’t successful in training, then it’s unlikely they’ll apply the skills and knowledge back on the job. If they don’t use the content back at work, the course will not have positive impact on the organization.
Remember that reaction surveys are subjective by nature and that you’re ultimately just asking for an opinion. Using this feedback can be valuable from many different aspects. Find out more about how to evaluate your training with our Evaluation of Training workshop!
Paul has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Throughout Paul’s career he’s had the pleasure of training for a variety of industries including sports, military, technical, aviation, and academia. Paul firmly believes with the right training and support, people can be competent performers in most positions. The organizational trainer is the key to providing that performance boost. In his spare time, you might catch sight of Paul on the sidelines of a soccer field, biking through Napa Valley, or spending some quality time with his family.