Watershed's 7 Steps of Learning Evaluation


Out of the dozens of different learning evaluation models currently in practice, which one is right for you? Turns out, you don't have to limit yourself to just one.  

Meet our "super method" for learning evaluation.

We've been using Watershed Insights to dig into several models of learning evaluation in light of what's possible with modern technologies such as xAPI. We've combined our favorite elements from Kirkpatrick, Kaufman, Anderson's Value of LearningBrinkerhoff's Success Case Method, and Phillips' Model to create our version of a "super method" of how to evaluate learning.

By combining the best portions of these four models, we've created a method to effectively evaluate your learning and development process from design through implementation.

Here's an overview of our practical seven-step evaluation process that you can implement in your organization:

 Watershed Learning Evaluation Model

Step 1: Align learning program evaluation with priorities.
Identify program goals and evaluate alignment with strategic priorities.
Step 2: Define metrics for effective evaluation.

Identify success metrics most appropriate to the organization. Ensure that these metrics cover the complete story from learning through to achievement of the program goals.

Step 3: Discover what's working in existing evaluation. (optional)

Identify what learning is already occurring in the organization that supports the program’s goals. Research those activities and identify what works well and what doesn’t.

Step 4: Design programs for effective evaluation.

Design the program itself, including determining how data relating to evaluation metrics will be captured, aggregated, and displayed/used. Consider use of dashboards for ongoing monitoring and reports for analysis at specific points in the program.

Step 5: Monitor success during evaluation.

Continually monitor success and progress toward the program goal and keep stakeholders updated. Make changes to the program as required in response to ongoing data.

Step 6: Analyze evaluation outcomes.

At the end of the program and/or at specific dates after implementation, analyze data in detail. Celebrate and share evidence of successes; document and share lessons learned.

Step 7: Explore evaluation outcomes. (optional)

Research further into particularly successful and unsuccessful elements of the program to uncover more lessons to be learned.

Up Next: Step 1, Align

During the next few weeks, we'll dive deeper into each one of the seven steps and share helpful worksheets with each step. In our next post, learn more about aligning your learning evaluation program with priorities.

[Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted on January 19, 2016, and has been updated for comprehensiveness.]

Let's start evaluating.

This downloadable eGuide combines the best parts of popular learning evaluation models. Use them as a guide to design and implement your own evaluation process. 

What is learning evaluation guide

Andrew Downes

About The Author

As one of the authors of xAPI, Andrew Downes has years of expertise in data-driven learning design. With a background in instructional design and development, he’s well versed in creating learning experiences and platforms in corporate and academic environments.