Measurable learning outcomes

As you know I deliver a number of accredited courses, two of which are qualifications to teach/train others. I have recently completed the delivery of a ‘preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector’ course (aka PTLLS) with a great group of people.

What happens to me in the weeks after I have assessed their micro-teach I am acutely aware of my own delivery style and whether or not my sessions would pass an assessed observation, whether my session plans would meet the necessary standards and whether or not you can actually measure whether learning has taken place!

It also makes me aware of how loose and vague a lot of learning outcomes are that are being used to deliver training and development programmes as we speak.   It makes me question how the learning will be measured…surely if somebody identified a learning need which led to the training, then there should be some way to measure whether or not the training has met that need?  Here are some examples here for you to consider:

  •     To understand the value of building long term relationships with customers
  •     To know best practice in how to handle difficult conversations
  •     To be more assertive and confident

My point being, how do you measure these objectives, how will you know that an individual has learnt anything or they just had a nice day out of the office? The other issue with unclear learning outcomes, how do you assess the progress of your delegates during the programme? With great difficulty I suggest!  Or as one trainer said to me: ‘you just know that they have got it’.

So this leads me to question how you employ external trainers or training companies, how do you check whether or not they can train & assess, as you want them to? Do you ask the questions about how they will assess whether learning has taken place or not? Or are you sold on their glossy brochure, great sales pitch and the fact that you are buddies with them?

From a business perspective ensuring good value for money has to be a key driver whether or not we are in times of austerity.  You have a responsibility to spend your company’s money wisely and get the best value training for the investment that you are making.  I am not saying that you should always buy the cheapest, nor am I saying that the most expensive will be the best, but you must make your buying decision on who is going to deliver the learning that is required and who will assess it to ensure that the learning has been transferred and that the original learning need is met.

As trainers we also have a duty to ensure that we provide measurable learning outcomes for all our courses and then carry out both formative and summative assessment throughout every programme that we deliver.  We can therefore demonstrate the value of training to the organisation in changing and improving performance and not just by being a nice to have!

Thanks for your time, Suzanne Unsworth

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