Is Your Training Course Likely to Boost Performance? Free Course Review Template.

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Despite decades of advocacy by our best trade associations, our wisest gurus, and our most practical researchers, most organizations today still rely on training courses that have little impact in promoting on-the-job performance.

As I mentioned in a recent article, we as learning professionals continue to fail in five major ways. You can access that article by clicking here.

I used to think that this was just a failure of knowledge, but in most of the organizations in which I’ve consulted, there are at least a few learning-and-performance professionals who understand that training alone is not enough. Part of the problem is the dead weight of tradition–the “old normal” continues to blind us to new possibilities. The enlightened few have a hard time pushing back against the gravitational pull of this mass hypnosis.

I recently had a new insight–a way of looking at this problem that I think might enable organizations to break out of their bad habits. The solution is that we have to gain control of the leverage points we have to push for change. We have to change the levers that warp and control our thinking. The big lever is learning measurement. I’ve been pushing this for years as our most important leverage point. If we measured better, we’d get better feedback, which would push us to create better learning interventions.

But learning measurement isn’t our only lever and changing your learning measurement practices is not always easy politically. Beside learning measurement, I’ve compiled a whole list of other leverage points that  really matter. In fact, it was only recently that I had this incredible insight (one I maybe should have had 10 years ago), that we ought to figure out all the levers we have at our disposal and change them to help push our organizations toward a performance orientation. I’d like to reveal one of those levers today.

One of the things we do in our organizations is review our training courses from time to time–either intentionally or by osmosis and feeling. Well, instead of using the wrong metrics, why not use methods that we know–based on our understanding of learning-and-performance–are likely to be good indicators of whether our training course will support actual on-the-job performance.

The Course Review Template is something that can be used on any training course–classroom training or e-learning.It includes a set of questions that are indicators of how performance-based your training course is. Each rubric in this tool is inspired by research or proven practices which I’ve learned in my 25+ years in the workplace learning field.

I should give you a warning. You’re unlikely to be happy with what you find. If I bet each of you one dollar for each training course of yours that doesn’t support performance, I’d be a millionaire overnight.

But to be fair, I’m going to let you try out the tool yourself. It’s free. Use it. And, let me know how your training courses rate. Are they likely to improve on-the-job performance or not?

Click to Download the Course Review Template

After you review a course, post your results at the following link, and when we get enough responses, we’ll let you compare your results to others.

Click to Post Your Course Review Results — SORRY, we’re done collecting data in a survey format.

Maybe I’m having a momentary bout of delusional cognition, but I’m thinking right now that this simple Course Review Template might just revolutionize our ability to simply review our courses to see how performance focused they are.

Such a grandiose statement will provoke eye rolls in some, so let me stipulate a few things. First, this is a first draft, so the Course Review Template is going to be imminently improvable. Second, the Course Review Template is NOT a precision instrument. It is not psychometrically derived, the numbers it assigns to each rubric are best guesses, and there was no super-committee here–just me. Third, the rubrics themselves are subject to interpretation. Instead of over-complicating the form and making it unusable, I decided to keep it simple and make it less precise. Finally, course reviews are just one of the levers you’ll need to completely transition from a course-focus to a performance-focus.

The bottom line is that we have to try some innovate new things to push our organizations to a performance focus. The old ways have not worked. The Course Review Template–or something like it–is worth a try. And seriously, I think it could revolutionize the way your organization views its training courses.

NOTE 2017: While this is the original blog post, it now includes the latest version of the Course Review Template. A later post that introduced the improvements is available here.

 

7 replies
  1. Mark Sheppard
    Mark Sheppard says:

    Will: I like the concept of a review function and I think it’s soemthing I could tweak it to some of the unique needs of this AF school.
    As an aside, I wonder how we adapt it so that you can focus more on “environment” or “learning path/program” and capture the successes of non-formal learning? Given some of the “the course is dead” talk, does it make sense to adjust accordingly?

  2. Kevin Kissack
    Kevin Kissack says:

    Agree with your conclusion.
    Managers of trainees are often to blame, plus incorrect but standard KPIs.
    Eg. Managers control how much time their staff can give to training, always minimal as their KPI is production.
    There is rarely practice or supervised-on-the-job post-training practice until competent, unless its safety related or apprentices are used.
    Managers decide yet they don’t know/understand behaviour or training very well. Plus, there are too many incorrect accepted norms such as ‘learning styles’.
    I create technical training.

  3. Will Thalheimer
    Will Thalheimer says:

    Thanks for kind words folks!!
    Yes, this can be used for e-learning.
    Yes, managers need to be partnered with more often to support the application of learning.
    And yes, you are absolutely right, this is designed specifically to help fix our training problem. It is NOT designed for the on-the-job learning side of things. It’s kind of funny that we are so focused on leveraging on-the-job learning but we still haven’t figured out how to do training right yet! We should be doing both. I’ve got some ideas on how to leverage on the job learning, which I’ll share in the future. One idea is to help managers see what role they can play. A second leverage point is to help our informal coaches know how to do it better. When I do work-learning audits, I find that the majority of folks make basic mistakes (e.g., not having the person they are coaching practice, not having the person try their skill after a significant delay, etc.)

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