Learning & Development - Measuring Learning Effectiveness - Part IV

“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t 
control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” ― H. James Harringto

In this series on Learning and development, we have touched upon so far on key learning principles, learning Types and developed an understanding of learning style in previous posts. Now let us touch upon upon Learning Effectiveness and challenges around measurement. There are 2 key concepts prevalent while talking about learning effectiveness. ROI and RoE.

As per Return on Investments (ROI), cost benefit analysis is carried out by companies to link benefits of the learning initiatives both at the organization & employee level to the learning spend, the benefits are measured in monetary terms, however, Return on Effectiveness (RoE) measures business metrics relating to effectiveness of the training instead of returns on investment. ROE demonstrates the degree to which training initiatives satisfy the expectations of key business stakeholders. 

Business partnership is necessary to bring about positive ROE. it is essential to negotiate and clarify with stakeholders what the expectations are regarding training outcomes. Clear and precise success indicators (eg percent changes in performance metrics) should be developed in line with these expectations. The training evaluation should then assess and report on both the actual changes that have come about as a result of the training and the extent to which these changes have met stakeholders’ expectations, ie whether there has been a ‘Return on Expectations’. 

What is important to note is that in ROE, we are not attempting to isolate the impact of training to business value. To isolate the impact of training is methodologically impossible and strategically counterproductive. If we're trying to build partnerships with managers of trainees, we can't use an evaluation plan that isolates the impact of training alone and ignores the critical management support after the training event. In this aspect ROE (Return on Expectations) is different from ROI (Return on Investment) 

There are multiple models including CIPP Model by Daniel L. Stufflebeam, Success Case Method Evaluation Model by Robert O. Brinkerhoff, High Impact Evaluation Model, by Canadian Society for Training and Development, Stakeholder Approach to evaluating Training by Fred W. Nickol, Kirkpatrick’s Model of Evaluation by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick and many more available to measure the learning effectiveness. Every model will have its own advantage and disadvantages. 

Having gone through various model, I personally tend to subscribe to Kirkpatrick’s Model of Evaluation.It is divided into four parts: reaction; learning; behaviour and results. The below picture is self explanatory

It wont be feasible to measure all the programs on level 3 and 4, hence it is imperative that we identify the high impact programs keeping in view the program alignment to the larger business objective, potential strategic and financial impact and availability of executive sponsorship and support which would be key to deliver the impact. 

With this, I will conclude this series on Learning and development with the hope that this provides you few pointers to develop your learning and development strategy and execution plan.


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