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LTEM, the Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model, was designed as an alternative to the Kirkpatrick-Katzell Four-Level Model of learning evaluation. It was designed specifically to better align learning evaluation with the science of human learning. One way in which LTEM is superior to the Four-Level Model is in the way it highlights gradations of learning outcomes. Where the Four-Level model crammed all “Learning” outcomes into one box (that is, “Level 2”), LTEM separates learning outcomes into Tier-4 Knowledge, Tier-5 Decision-Making Competence, and Tier-6 Task Competence. This simple, yet incredibly powerful categorization, changes everything in terms of learning evaluation. First and foremost, it pushes us to go beyond inconsequential knowledge checks in our learning evaluations (and in our learning designs as well). To learn more about how LTEM creates additional benefits, you can click on this link, where you can access the model and a 34-page report for free, compliments of  me, Will Thalheimer, and Work-Learning Research, Inc.

Using LTEM in Credentialing

LTEM can also be used in credentialing—or less formally in specifying the rigorousness of our learning experiences. So for example, if our training course only asks questions about terminology or facts in its assessments, than we can say that the course provides a Tier-4 credential. If our course asks learners to successfully complete a series of scenario-based decisions, we can say that the course provides a Tier-5 credential.

Wow! Think of the power of naming the credential level of our learning experiences. Not only will it give us—and our business stakeholders—a clear sense of the strength of our learning initiatives, but it will drive our instructional designs to meet high standards of effectiveness. It will also begin to set the bar higher. Let’s admit a dirty truth. Too many of our training programs are just warmed-over presentations that do very little to help our learners make critical decisions or improve their actual skills. By focusing on credentialing, we focus on effectiveness!

 

Using LTEM Credentialing at Work-Learning Research

For the last several months, I’ve been developing an online course to teach learning professionals how to transform their learner surveys into Performance-Focused Smile Sheets. As part of this development process, I realized that I needed more than one learning experience—at least one to introduce the topic and one to give people extensive practice. I also wanted to provide people with a credential each time they successfully completed a learning experience. Finally, I wanted to make the credential meaningful. As the LTEM model suggests, attendance is NOT a meaningful benchmark. Neither is learner satisfaction. Nor is knowledge regurgitation.

Suddenly, it struck me. LTEM already provided a perfect delineation for meaningful credentialing. Tier-5 Decision-Making Competence would provide credentialing for the first learning experience. For people to earn their credential they would have to perform successfully in responding to realistic decision-making scenarios. Tier-6 Task Competence would provide credentialing for the second, application-focused learning experience. Additional credentials would only be earned if people could show results at Tier-7 and/or Tier-8 (Transfer to Work Performance and associated Transfer Effects).

 

 

The Gold-Certification Workshop is now ready for enrollment. The Master-Certification Workshop is coming soon! You can keep up to date or enroll now by going to the Work-Learning Academy page.

 

How You Can Use LTEM Credentialing to Assess Learning Experiences that Don’t Use LTEM

LTEM is practically brand new, having only been released to the public a year ago. So, while many organizations are gaining a competitive advantage by exploring its use, most of our learning infrastructure has yet to be transformed. In this transitional period, each of us has to use our wisdom to assess what’s already out there. How about you give it a try?

Two-Day Classroom Workshop — What Tier Credential?

What about a two-day workshop that gives people credit for completing the experience? Where would that be on the LTEM framework?

Here’s a graphic to help. Or you can access the full model by clicking here.

The two-day workshop would be credentialed at a Tier-1 level, signifying that the experience credentials learners by measuring their attendance or completion.

Two-Day Classroom Workshop with Posttest — What Tier Credential?

What if the same two-day workshop also added a test focused on whether the learners understood the content—and provided the test a week after the program. Note that in the LTEM model, credentialing is encouraged at Tiers 4, 5, and 6 to include assessments that show learners are able to remember, not just comprehend in the short term.

If the workshop added this posttest, we’d credential it at Tier-4, Knowledge Retention.

Half-Day Online Program with Performance-Focused Smile Sheet — What Tier Credential?

What if there was a half day workshop that used one of my Performance-Focused Smile Sheets to evaluate success. At what Tier would this be credentialed?

It would be credentialed at Tier-3, or Tier-3A if we wanted to delineate between learner surveys that assess learning effectiveness and those that don’t.

Three-Session Online Program with Traditional Smile Sheet — What Tier Credential?

This format—using three 90-minute sessions with a traditional smile sheet—is the most common form of credentialing in the workplace learning industry right now. Go look around at those that are providing credentials. They are providing credentials using relatively short presentations and a smile sheet at the end. If this is what they provide, what credentialing Tier do they deserve? Tier-3 or Tier-3B! That’s right! That’s it. They only tell us that learners are satisfied with the learning experience. They don’t tell us whether they can make important decisions or whether they can utilize new skills.

What is this credential really worth?

You can decide for yourself, but I think it could be worth more, if only those making the money provided credentialing at Tier-5, Tier-6, and beyond.

With LTEM we can begin to demand more!

 

Work-Learning Research and Will Thalheimer can Help!

People tell me I need to stop giving stuff away for free, or at least I ought to be more proactive in seeking customers. So, this is a reminder that I am available to help you improve your learning and learning evaluation strategies and tactics. Please reach out to me at my nifty contact form by clicking here.

In my ongoing research interviewing learning executives, I occasionally come across stories or ideas that just can't wait until the full set of data is collected.

This week, I interviewed a director of employee development and training at a mid-sized distribution company. She expressed many of the frustrations I've heard before in my consulting work with L&D (Learning and Development) leaders. For example:

  • Lack of good learning measurement, causing poor feedback to L&D stakeholders.
  • Too many task requirements to allow for strategic thinking in L&D.
  • While some SME's are great trainers, too many deliver poorly-designed sessions.
  • Lack of some sort of competency testing of learners.
  • Lack of follow-through after training, limiting likelihood of successful application to the job.

There were so many changes to make that it appeared overwhelming — as if making positive change was going to take forever.

Then she got an idea. Her organization had begun to train its customers (in addition to training its employees), and they began to search for ways to demonstrate the value and credibility of the customer-focused courses.

What this director realized was that accreditation might serve multiple purposes — if it provided a rigorous evaluation scheme; one that demanded living up to certain standards.

She found an accrediting agency that fit the bill. IACET, the International Association of Continuing Education and Training would certify her organization, but the organization would have to prove that it engaged in certain practices.

This turned out to be a game changer. The requirements, more often than not, propelled her organization in directions she had hoped they would travel anyway. The accreditation process had become a powerful lever in the director's change-management efforts.

Some of things that the accreditation required:

  • The L&D organization had to demonstrate training needs, not just take orders for courses.
  • They had to map learning evaluations back to learning objectives, ensuring relevance in evaluations.
  • They had to have objectives that tied into learning outcomes for each course.
  • Trainers had to be certified in training skills (aligned to research-based best practices).
  • Trainers had to be regularly trained to maintain their certifications.
  • Et cetera…

While before it was difficult for her to get some of her SME's to take instructional design seriously, now accreditation constraints propelled them in the right direction. Whereas before, SME's balked at creating tests of competence, now the accreditation requirements demanded compliance. Whereas before, her SME's could skip out on training on evidence-based learning practice, now they were compelled to take it seriously — otherwise they may lose their accreditation; thus losing the differentiation their training provides to customers.

The accreditation process was a catalyst, but it wouldn't work on it's own — and it's not a panacea. The director acknowledges that a full and long-term change management effort is required, but accreditation has helped her move the needle toward better learning practices.