How do we know that we have learned something? Look for behaviour changes and create space for them to happen.

von Marion Ehmann

If you are interested in professional development, you probably have asked yourself that question a couple of times. Of course you want to have a return on the investment of your valuable time. If you are responsible for professional development in your organization or if you make your living by helping others develop in their professions (as do I), this is the most critical question of all. How do we know whether the money an organization spends on training and coaching is worth the outcome?

So we need to evaluate the outcomes and there are some established approaches (the so-called four levels according to Donald Kirkpatrick), each with their pros and cons:

Self-assessment along the lines of e.g. “Did the course meet your expectations? Did you find the training useful? Would you recommend it to your colleagues?” Pro: Very easy to do with a simple short set of questions. Con: Does not really say much about the effect of training. Formally testing the acquired skills. Pro: Quite easy to do with a quiz. Con: Still does not say whether the new skills are actually transferred to the workplace. Looking for changes in behaviour at work, e.g. by interviewing participants a couple of months after the training. Pro: Measures the actual transfer of knowledge to the workplace. Con: More time-consuming than 1. and 2. Measuring impact on e.g. bottom line, quality etc. Pro: Since one of these things was the reason the training was undertaken in the first place, this is the best measurement. Con: Very time-consuming and requires measuring both before and after training.

I prefer no ...

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