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).
These learning experiences are not quite ready for enrollment—they should be ready within a week or two—but if you’d like to be informed of their release, please sign up for Will’s News. You can do that here, while also seeing silly pictures of me.
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.