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The Trainer’s Handbook

Chapter 5 - Evaluating Your Effectiveness

Self-Evaluation. So far, we’ve talked about the evaluation of trainees. You, too, need to know how you are doing. Bring a video camera to your classes and record an hour here and there at random. Do it several times, then watch the tapes and ask yourself if you could learn from that trainer. If so, why? If not, why not? If you don’t have a video camera, bring in an audiotape recorder. The trainees won’t mind, and the experience is invaluable. Invite someone whose judgment you respect to observe and critique you. Give that person a list of attributes to evaluate.

Ask your trainees to fill out evaluation forms during or at the completion of their training. Follow their advice. You can’t please all of them, so don’t try, but look for patterns in negative comments and change in response to them. Enjoy the positive comments, but seriously weigh the negative ones. Ask questions like, “Was the material too theoretical? Just right? Too practical or too elementary?” “What did you feel you learned?” Have them rate you or the seminar on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is poor and 5 is excellent, or just use categories of excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.

One of the problems with standardized evaluation forms is that they are expected to be ideal for all occasions. They cannot be. Consider designing the evaluation form for the specific class it is to be used in. Such forms are also a good opportunity to gather data on other areas that may require training. Ask trainees what else they feel a need for on their jobs. Finally, be sure to stick to the topic and keep the form simple. Allow enough time at the end of the session for the trainees to fill out the form if you expect them to give it some serious thought.

When you want to change your own pattern of teaching, set goals for yourself with set time limits. Don’t be locked into certain methods. Try different things and see how the group responds. Go with a good response. If you have to break a bad habit, like saying “okay” at the end of each thought, try these:

1. Create a mnemonic device to remind yourself you are breaking a habit. It can be putting something unusual in your pocket (my favorite is a pegboard hook), wearing a watch upside down, tying a string on your finger, putting a sign in the back of the room. Use anything that will remind you not to do the habit.

2. Invent a new behavior to replace the old one.

3. Every time you notice your mnemonic device, immediately stop doing the old habit for five minutes and do the new habit. Increase to ten minutes, then twenty, then forty-five minutes, and so on.

4. If all else fails, ask your trainees to help. Explain that you are trying to break a bad habit and show them what it is. Ask them to make a loud noise whenever you do it. I have used this with great success to break several bad habits. (I ask them to give me a Bronx cheer.)

Evaluation of Affective Learning. So far the discussion has focused on evaluating cognitive learning. It is relatively easy to tell when people improve their performance of a job. It is more difficult to ascertain whether you have influenced someone’s attitude. The key, again, is finding a variable that changes with attitude change. By monitoring this variable you can gauge the change in attitude as well. Here are some variables that indicate attitude change:

  • Facial expressions. The face is so obvious we tend to forget how much it is a barometer of attitude. A smiling, alert, animated face has an “up” attitude. A stiff or drooping face indicates the reverse. Maintaining eye contact, using the Socratic method, and moving closer to the group cause changes in facial expressions that reveal true attitude. Monitor these to determine immediate moods.
  • Instructor evaluations. Receiving an “excellent” rating on evaluations not only means that your training skills are good but that the group has a positive attitude toward both you and the material. The two are directly related. Exciting material makes the instructor look good, and a good instructor can make even poor material exciting. Of course, if you receive a “poor” rating, you can assume the trainees have learned little and feel “down” about the session. Ask questions such as, “Did you achieve your personal objectives in coming here?” and “What do you feel you’ve learned?” You can garner feedback that reveals the trainees’ attitudes.

> On-the-Job Evaluation

Excerpts from Chapter 5, The Trainer's Handbook

  1. Evaluating Effectiveness
  2. Short-term Evaluation
  3. Project Sessions
  4. Case Histories and Practice Sessions
  5. Examinations
  6. Types of Exam Questions
  7. Assessment Sessions
  8. Self-evaluation
  9. On-the-Job Evaluation
  10. Long-term Evaluations
  11. Bottom-line Evaluation

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