The most important step in learning evaluation is understanding the program's purpose and goals. In this post, we’ll dig into our seven steps for evaluating training programs—starting with how to identify program goals and evaluate alignment with overall organizational and strategic priorities.
If you’re new to this series, be sure to check out the overview for all of Watershed’s 7 practical steps for evaluating learning programs. Now, it's time to dig into the first of the seven steps, as we show you how to identify program goals and evaluate alignment with overall organizational and strategic priorities.
Identify learning program goals and evaluate alignment with strategic priorities.
It’s essential that you understand a learning program’s goals. Otherwise, how can you measure and evaluate its impact on learners and the business?
This involves digging into why the program was created in the first place, identifying and talking to project stakeholders, and reflecting on what changes the program is supposed to bring about.
In some cases, the aims of the program are obvious. In other cases, the underlying goals can take more work to uncover (perhaps the L&D team has simply been asked to “make a course on X”).
In some cases, the aims of the program are obvious. In other cases, the underlying goals can take more work to uncover (e.g., the Learning and Development team was asked to create a course on a particular topic).
Once the program's goals are defined, evaluate how these goals support the strategic priorities of the organization. This is a vital part of program evaluation.
As we explored in our Anderson's Value of Learning model blog post, a successful program that doesn't align with overall strategic priorities is a bad use of the organization's resources.
Given that most L&D departments have limited time and resources, work that has the biggest strategic impact should be prioritized over those that make the most noise.
Step 1 Objectives
- Define program goals.
- Evaluate how closely program goals align to strategic priorities.
- Decide whether or not the program will proceed.
Making It Happen
- Ensure goals align with strategic priorities.
- Identify and involve all appropriate stakeholders.
- Adjust or cancel the program if goals do not align.
Up Next: Learning Evaluation Step 2, Define
In the next installment of our Learning Evaluation series, we'll cover Step 2 and show you how to define metrics for effective learning evaluation. And be sure to subscribe to Watershed Insights to get the latest posts sent right to your inbox.
[Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted on January 22, 2016, and has been updated for comprehensiveness.]
About the author
As a co-author of xAPI, Andrew has been instrumental in revolutionizing the way we approach data-driven learning design. With his extensive background in instructional design and development, he’s an expert in crafting engaging learning experiences and a master at building robust learning platforms in both corporate and academic environments. Andrew’s journey began with a simple belief: learning should be meaningful, measurable, and, most importantly, enjoyable. This belief has led him to work with some of the industry’s most innovative organizations and thought leaders, helping them unlock the true potential of their learning strategies. Andrew has also shared his insights at conferences and workshops across the globe, empowering others to harness the power of data in their own learning initiatives.
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